Rio Ferdinand has dismissed the notion that Manchester United would be a better team if Cristiano Ronaldo were absent.
The Portuguese superstar scored a hat-trick to lead United to a crucial victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.
That treble, Ronaldo’s 59th of his illustrious career, gave him 807 career goals between his club and international tenure, more than any other player in football history, according to FIFA.
Ronaldo, 37, had been left out of United’s humiliating Manchester derby loss to City the week before, with suspicions that Ralf Rangnick’s side would be a more dangerous offensive threat without him.
Prior to Saturday’s incredible individual performance, the veteran forward had only scored nine Premier League goals in 23 games.
However, Ferdinand, Ronaldo’s former United colleague, has dismissed the notion that the Red Devils would be a better club without the Portuguese star in the starting lineup.
Ferdinand said ahead of United’s second leg Champions League Round of 16 clash against Atletico Madrid that the team only made it out of the group stages because of Ronaldo’s game-changing brilliance.
Ronaldo, who has won the title five times, including with Ferdinand in 2008, scored six goals in five outings in the group stage to help United win.
After scoring in a 1-0 loss to Young Boys on the opening day, Ronaldo scored late winners against Villarreal and Atalanta at home, before scoring twice in a 2-2 draw in Italy and a two-goal victory in Spain.
“Man United would not be in the Champions League without Cristiano Ronaldo,” Ferdinand told Mirror Football.
“Would United be a better team without him?” That is something with which I completely disagree.
“If he wasn’t playing for Man United, they would have been eliminated from the group stage.”
“A player of his talent and ability, who is as resolute as he is, who has proven over the years and this season that he can make a difference.”
“Manchester United is not a team that can say, ‘OK, we’re too excellent to have someone like that in our team.'”
Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, and Anthony Elanga are United’s three natural attackers in the first-team squad following Anthony Martial’s loan move to Sevilla in January.
Ronaldo’s double on Saturday gave him 18 goals in 31 games since his return to Old Trafford, putting him on track to score at least 20 goals for the 16th consecutive season.
In Tuesday night’s Old Trafford match, the Portuguese superstar will try to add to his tally of victories over Diego Simeone’s side, having defeated them with Real Madrid in the 2014 and 2016 finals, as well as defeating them with a hat-trick for Juventus in 2019.