Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United is still uncertain. The Portugal international announced his intention to quit at the end of last month in order to explore a new challenge elsewhere. And, while links to Chelsea and Bayern Munich have faded, it’s possible he’ll make a splashy return to La Liga with Atletico Madrid.
United want Ronaldo to stay, just as they did when he left for Real Madrid in 2009.
That means the Red Devils will have to devise a new contingency plan if and when the Portugal international gets his way.
United has stated openly that Ronaldo is not for sale, with Erik ten Hag stating that he is thrilled to work with the veteran at Old Trafford.
However, there is a private belief that the Red Devils might profit from a split, especially if it did not entail a cross-country migration.
After losing Ronaldo in 2009, United signed three players.
While the trio had their moments in the red shirt, they were never a viable replacement for the Portugal international.
After losing Ronaldo, United raided Wigan for Luis Antonio Valencia, who had impressed throughout his time in England.
Valencia had made a name for himself at the JJB Stadium, as it was known at the time.
And Sir Alex Ferguson, who had accepted the departure of his talisman, thought he’d be a fantastic replacement for Ronaldo at the time.
Despite not scoring as many goals as his predecessor, Valencia became a cult icon during his stay at Old Trafford.
Valencia appeared in 339 games for United, helping them win two Premier League titles.
He was also a member of the team that won the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal in 2016, as well as the Europa League and Carabao Cup the following year under Jose Mourinho.
Michael Owen was the second player United signed all those years ago.
Owen was given Ronaldo’s No. 7 shirt and was signed despite being hampered by injuries throughout his time at Newcastle.
He was only with the Red Devils for two years, earning the league title under Ferguson before leaving for Stoke in 2011.
Even though he was clearly past his prime, Owen had some positive moments in a red shirt.
His last-minute victory against Manchester City in a thrilling contest at Old Trafford in 2009 was particularly memorable.
Owen also scored a hat-trick as United defeated Wolfsburg in the Champions League.
Gabriel Obertan was the third player United signed to fill the vacuum left by Ronaldo’s departure.
When it comes to the winger, though, the less spoken about him, the better.
Obertan never lived up to expectations at United, playing only two years there before joining Newcastle.
Fast forward to the present, and it’s evident that United will need to improve if Ronaldo gets his wish to go.
Antony is one possible arrival, with Ten Hag having previously managed the Brazil international at Ajax.
Memphis Depay is another option, however talks of him returning to United seem unlikely.
United truly wanted Karim Benzema, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa, and Franck Ribery in 2009.
But none of the quartet arrived, leaving only Ferguson’s singular genius to ensure that further titles arrived at Old Trafford.