How Man United can keep Cristiano Ronaldo with uncertainty swirling around the star forward’s future

Advertisements

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United has been the subject of speculation and rumors ever since the day he signed on the dotted line to make a sensational return to Old Trafford last August.

Ronaldo was first thought to be unsure about his place in the team under new manager Erik ten Hag, who has been given the monumental task of rebuilding and re-energizing a vastly underperforming squad.

The 37-year-old then appeared to confirm he would be staying after telling club media that he ‘was and still am very happy to be here’. The Portuguese forward insisted he still has faith in this side, claiming United will return to ‘where they belong’ – despite a torrid campaign last time out.

Ten Hag has also signaled his intention to keep Ronaldo, who is under contract at United until June 2023 after signing a two-year deal to come back to the team where he shot to global stardom.

Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Manchester United remains uncertain amid claims he is unhappy with the lack of transfer business

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United remains uncertain amid claims he is unhappy with the lack of transfer business

Ronaldo, 37, told club media last month that he was 'happy' to be at Old Trafford

Ronaldo, 37, told club media last month that he was ‘happy’ to be at Old Trafford

The latest reports out of Portugal claim Ronaldo is considering leaving the club this summer as he has become frustrated at the lack of transfer activity.

Here, Sportsmail looks at what United have to do to keep Ronaldo happy and ensure he remains at Old Trafford ahead of a crucial season.

Make a statement signing

According to Portuguese outlet Record, Ronaldo is ready to quit in response to the club having not signed anyone yet so far in a typically irritating window for United fans.

Ronaldo has reportedly issued United with an ultimatum – ‘up your game in the market or I’ll leave’.

Landing prime target Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona would go a long way to appeasing Ronaldo, who will want to be surrounded by world-class players in what is likely to be his final season in England.

It is thought that Paul Pogba had Ronaldo’s respect even with the Frenchman’s well-documented issues – game recognises game, as they say – but the divisive midfielder is heading out of the Old Trafford exit door.

United are in talks with Barcelona over a deal for Dutch midfield star Frenkie de Jong

The Portuguese cut an exasperated figure on far too many occasions last season as United were thrashed by Manchester City and Liverpool, and humbled and embarrassed by Brighton and Watford.

He had the sympathy of match-going fans, for this is a player who is used to playing with established stars such as Luka Modric, who are streets ahead of the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay.

Signing De Jong would be a sprinkling of stardust that just might entice Ronaldo to stay but, as United have painstakingly showed so far, a deal will not be easy.

Ten Hag worked with De Jong while the two were at Ajax - and they could link up again

Ten Hag worked with De Jong while the two were at Ajax – and they could link up again

Ronaldo is reportedly frustrated at the lack of transfer activity at Old Trafford so far this summer

The latest reports suggest United and Barcelona are still considerably apart in their valuation of the Dutchman. The Red Devils’ pursuit of the player is already a saga, one which Ronaldo – and United fans – will want resolved as quickly as possible.

Bolster the defense

Ronaldo trudging back towards the halfway line as the fourth goal went in during United’s defeat to Brighton in May was an all-too familiar sight.

United’s attack were often profligate in front of goal but it was the defense that was the main problem as they conceded a staggering 57 goals in the Premier League, four more than relegated Burnley.

Having signed Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, it looked as though the club had at least partially addressed their long-running defensive problem. Who knew him being unveiled on the pitch at Old Trafford before the opening game of the season against Leeds would be the highlight of the whole campaign.

United's defense shipped far too many goals in a dismal campaign last time out

United’s defense shipped far too many goals in a dismal campaign last time out

Advertisements
United attempted to shore up their backline with the signing of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid

United attempted to shore up their backline with the signing of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid

But Varane’s injury record, coupled with Harry Maguire’s drastic dip in form, left United exposed.

Ronaldo has a considerable influence over the dressing room and will have been forgiven for berating the defense as they conceded goal after goal.

He may be concerned by the fact United do not seem to be actively pursuing a center-back marquee in this summer’s window, although there are reports that Ten Hag will look to capitalize on Matthijs de Ligt seemingly wanting away from Juventus.

Yes, there have been strong links to Jurrien Timber of Ajax, but he would be more of an investment for the future than a ready-to-go first-teamer at United.

A more solid defensive unit will allow Ten Hag’s new side to play with greater freedom, which would only benefit Ronaldo.

Beat rivals to big names

The days of United being the go-to destination for foreign stars looking to make their mark in the Premier League appear to be long gone.

Ronaldo, like the club’s fans, will have seen City sign Erling Haaland and Liverpool snap up highly-rated forward Darwin Nunez with significant envy.

Manchester City have already strengthened their title-winning side by landing Erling Haaland

Manchester City have already strengthened their title-winning side by landing Erling Haaland

Arsenal and Tottenham, who are likely to be United’s rivals for the Champions League places next season, have also already strengthened. Many supporters fee one of Spurs’ signings, Yves Bissouma, would have been an ideal fit at Old Trafford.

In the case of Nunez, depending on who you believe, either United decided against entering a bidding war with their arch-rivals or the Uruguayans wanted to join Jurgen Klopp’s side. Or a bit of both.

It used to be United that everyone wanted to play for. But now, given the choice between Old Trafford and either City or Liverpool, most rational-thinking players would choose the Etihad or Anfield over Ten Hag’s side with barely a second thought.

Darwin Nunez has joined Liverpool having been heavily linked with a move to United

Darwin Nunez has joined Liverpool having been heavily linked with a move to United

This is a trait Ronaldo will want to see United arrest sooner rather than later. The Portuguese will want to play out his final days in the Premier League alongside big names, rather than against them.

Make him captain?

While the importance of captaincy in football in recent years has arguably dwindled – we are not in the golden era of the likes of Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard anymore – giving Ronaldo the armband would be a huge signal of intent from Ten Hag .

Ronaldo has captained Portugal for a decade and leads the United dressing room by example by the intensity of his training and the way he looks after himself.

Ten Hag could use him to set an example to the younger players in his squad and to set the highest standards of professionalism around the club.

Giving Ronaldo the United captaincy, currently held by Harry Maguire, could also keep the Portuguese star happy

Giving Ronaldo the United captaincy, currently held by Harry Maguire, could also keep the Portuguese star happy

We have already heard how many of Ronaldo’s team-mates started declining a dessert after their meals in the club canteen – just because he did.

The Portuguese player’s ego is also no secret and making him captain would doubtless indulge that.

He is the best man for the job should Maguire be stripped of the captaincy – even with uncertainty continuing to swirl around his future.

.

Advertisements

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*