Cristiano Ronaldo has a contract with Manchester United until the summer of 2023, but there is growing uncertainty about his future.
Ralf Rangnick, the Manchester United interim manager, has not shied away from highlighting and drawing attention to critical issues during his brief tenure at Old Trafford.
Rangnick has never been hesitant to speak his mind, from his first news conference, when he instantly emphasized United’s need for more control in games, to when he called out Anthony Martial for refusing to come to Villa Park for the Premier League match against Aston Villa. However, it can only be viewed as a positive because it demonstrates that a United employee is not scared to speak up about where mistakes have been made.
Another issue that Rangnick has brought up, while it should come as no surprise, is that United’s center-forward alternatives are becoming older. Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani have a collective age of 72 years between them.
Despite the fact that they have both had long, profitable, and decorative careers, especially the former, they are now in their twilight years. Cavani, who has made just 17 appearances in all competitions this season, is poised to leave United when his contract expires in June, while Ronaldo’s future at the club is uncertain, especially after United’s Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday evening.
Regardless of what happens with Ronaldo’s future this summer, the club will need to sign a new striker. Many moons ago, United emphasized the importance of bringing in a younger option, which Rangnick agreed with last month.
Rangnick stated when asked if United needed to bring in a younger striker, “This is evident.” Edinson’s contract expires in the summer, and the team is in desperate need of a new center-forward.
“This is a no-brainer. That is something I believe everyone is aware of.”
United have targeted Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as their favoured option to infuse fresh blood into their frontline since March last year, according to the Manchester Evening News. However, the Norwegian international, who is due to depart the German giants this summer, is unlikely to join the club, with Manchester City and Real Madrid leading the race to recruit him.
United will be in a tight situation if they miss out on Haaland. He is widely regarded as the most exciting striker in the world in his age group, and natural No.9s are becoming increasingly rare, with more clubs opting for false-nine formations.
As a result, who will lead the line for United next season? Ronaldo’s future at Old Trafford might have a big impact on the Reds’ transfer ambitions in this area.
If the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has 18 goals in all competitions, stays at United, he will be expected to continue as the club’s first-choice striker and leading goalscorer, which is understandable given his achievements. However, this will have a direct impact on anybody United brings in to compete with him.
Harry Kane, who United may rekindle their interest in this summer, and Robert Lewandowski, who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks, would not join United to play second fiddle to Ronaldo unless the new manager adopts a front-two formation, which is another dying art in modern football. If Ronaldo stays, United will be on the lookout for forwards in the mold of Lyon’s Moussa Dembele and Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak, both of whom would be content to be used as substitutes and create competition for Ronaldo.
As a result, Ronaldo’s departure may be United’s sole chance of acquiring the “greatest possible centre-forward” that Rangnick stated the team required. There are advantages and disadvantages to keeping Ronaldo, and you could go on and on about the advantages.
The Reds, on the other hand, are at a point when they must contemplate the club’s long-term future in order to reclaim the position they desire. At 37, Ronaldo is nearing the conclusion of his career, despite his immense potential, and it would be natural for his playing days to conclude where Sir Alex Ferguson shaped him into the player he is today.
United, on the other hand, must think about their long-term strategy, and signing a world-class centre-forward who can be the face of their forward line for years to come is near the top of their priority list this summer. With that stated, keeping Ronaldo will have a direct impact on the type of striker they bring in, i.e., whether they bring in someone in the mold of Kane or someone in the mold of Dembele.