Ralf Rangnick is right about Manchester United’s transfer priorities with Cristiano Ronaldo form

Ralf Rangnick is right about Manchester United’s transfer priorities with Cristiano Ronaldo form

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The goal drought appeared to be over when Cristiano Ronaldo raced around Fraser Forster after latching onto Jadon Sancho’s beautiful ball.

The forward, who has more than 800 career goals, has yet to score in 2022, and after putting in the effort by going around Forster, he fluffed his lines once more. Romain Perraud had time to go back and clear the ball a few yards from the goalline after a poor finish.

A hint of a confidence issue doesn’t feel quite right for a player who has his own unique goal celebration, his own museum, and a predilection for posing topless on Instagram, but things aren’t coming effortlessly to Ronaldo in front of goal.

Later in the first half, there was another example. Sancho was the creator once again, driving down the left flank and cutting a ball to Ronaldo at the far post. In his prime, the unstoppably merciless finisher would have volleyed a first-time volley across goal with his right foot.

Instead, Ronaldo tried to keep hold of the ball, postponed the shot once again, cut back onto his left foot, and let the opportunity slip away. When the posts started to surface, he appeared upset at his lack of conviction.

Ronaldo’s chances are coming and going at a rapid pace at the moment. He had ten shots against Middlesbrough without scoring, and it has been nine hours since he last scored, in a 3-1 win against Burnley.

In a team that is failing to score goals, the lack of goals is definitely an issue. Only three of Ralf Rangnick’s 13 games in charge have seen the team score more than once, and those games couldn’t have been any more hospitable. Ronaldo was supposed to be the team’s talisman, but that isn’t happening right now.

However, there are additional issues surrounding Ronaldo. He was caught offside multiple times against Southampton, and for setting up Paul Pogba’s disallowed goal, he was so much past the last man that it’s tough to comprehend how he’d managed to mistime a run so horribly.

This is starting to feel like a regular theme. He turned 37 this weekend, and while it’s clear that his development will slow, it can be tempting to start running earlier to compensate for the slower pace. Is Ronaldo recognizing that his dominance is waning?

It would be stupid to dismiss a player with his track record, but United aren’t getting their money’s worth right now. Edinson Cavani would almost definitely have come on for Ronaldo at some time if he hadn’t screamed off on Saturday morning.

United’s season hasn’t gone as planned, with only eight goals in 20 Premier League games. Rangnick made it apparent on Friday that a younger striker was a priority in the summer, with Cavani moving.

“This is self-evident,” Rangnick stated. “Edinson’s contract expires in the summer, and the club is in desperate need of a new center forward. This is a no-brainer. That is something I believe everyone is aware of.”

Cavani turns 35 tomorrow, and United’s two attackers are both 72 years old. Ronaldo’s contract expires in a year, but do they require a younger centre forward to fill his place in 2023, or is a replacement required this summer? On recent evidence, Ronaldo’s ability to lead this offense into his 39th year seems questionable.

Erling Haaland is an obvious target, but considering United’s flirtation with missing out on the Champions League, their chances of completing the transaction must be on a knife’s edge. If that happens, Ronaldo may still make this decision in the club’s best interests.

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