Manchester United have another Ruud van Nistelrooy on transfer deadline day
MANCHESTER UNITED witnessed the best of Ruud van Nistelrooy during his five seasons in a red shirt, with the Dutchman becoming a club icon in the process.
Cristiano Ronaldo is, in many ways, Manchester United’s modern-day Ruud van Nistelrooy – at least the 2006 version of the Netherlands international. A lethal and great goalscorer who is outmatched by his younger teammates. And with less than 24 hours left in the transfer window, it’ll be interesting to watch what happens.
Ronaldo notified United in June that he wanted to go for a team that could provide him Champions League football, something the Red Devils cannot do after finishing sixth last season.
He has now attempted to engineer a move abroad, hoping that a prominent European club will come to his aid and give him his hefty wage.
Except that hasn’t occurred. In today’s day and age, a player who is probably the best the sport has ever seen isn’t regarded as worth the risk.
Despite scoring 24 goals in all competitions last season, Ronaldo is seen as a bygone era. His greatest days are behind him, not ahead, at the age of 37.
Erik ten Hag has remained unusually composed in public. On Tuesday, he stated that Ronaldo would be staying, saying, “From the beginning, we said we planned with him.”
“We’re thrilled with him, he’s happy to be here, and we want to have a successful season together.”
When asked about the Portugal international and internal debates, Ten Hag replied, “Several times, sure.” We’re all on the same page.
“The demands are set by the manner you play. During training, it is evident that he possesses the necessary skills.
“He’ll fit in because – I don’t need to explain why. He’s a fantastic player. He will fit into any system or style.”
Ronaldo appears to be warming up to the prospect of playing in the Europa League for the first time. A competition he’s never competed in before throughout his dazzling career.
But, while United has officially stated that they want him to stay, the reality has been quite different behind the scenes.
Ten Hag has been widely rumored to have been receptive to offloading the Portugal international all summer.
He believes the Ronaldo circus has become an unwelcome distraction as he attempts to rebuild the Premier League’s fallen giants, who have failed to win a trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.
However, the Red Devils are now set to be stuck with him.
It’s a far cry from 2006, when Ferguson concluded Van Nistelrooy’s greatest years were behind him, not ahead.
The Netherlands international had been prolific in previous years, scoring 150 goals to become Old Trafford history.
In the 2002/2003 season alone, he scored 44 goals, a number only matched by Mohamed Salah in the years since.
But, with Wayne Rooney and a young Ronaldo threatening to overtake Van Nistelrooy, his relationship with Ferguson began to deteriorate.
He was upset that he was left out of the squad for the 2006 EFL Cup final victory over Wigan, in which Ronaldo and Rooney both scored.
Ferguson opted to let Van Nistelrooy go as his temper deteriorated.
It has echoes of today when Rashford and Jadon Sancho have begun to resemble their genuine selves in the absence of Ronaldo.
Despite their inconsistency, those two are the future of Ten Hag’s team, something the Dutchman is well aware of.
Antony, who has joined from Ajax, is another player whose development Ten Hag would not allow Ronaldo to stifle.
If a Champions League team makes a genuine offer to Ronaldo, it’s probable that the Red Devils will accept.
Instead, he appears to be here to stay. Only time will tell whether or not this works in United’s favor.