Cristiano Ronaldo plays an unexpected role in Manchester United’s transfer plans – George Smith

Leading up to Manchester United’s trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday night, interim manager Ralf Rangnick used his penultimate pre-match press conference to drop an almighty bombshell.

The German, who has peppered his press conferences with refreshing levels of honesty since his December arrival at Old Trafford, made his biggest and most telling confession to date. He revealed he wanted to add a striker to United’s ranks in the January transfer window and his efforts were stalled.

“Obviously the team had some problems at the end of November and as we all know we are improving in the first few months, at least until the end of January,” said Rangnick. “We conceded fewer goals, we had a points average of 2.1 after the West Ham game.

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“But in that international period we lost three players, including Edinson Cavani, we lost three strikers – we lost three strikers and we had problems scoring goals and finding our balance, this is what happened. Maybe – I still believe – that we should have tried, in those 48 hours, and I think the board now sees it the same way – they agreed with me – but they also talked to the scouting department at the time, maybe we should have signed, tried to sign , a player in those 48 hours when we knew Mason [Greenwood] would not be available as soon as we knew that Anthony Martial was already on loan.

“At least we were already aware that Edinson Cavani might not be available for eight out of ten games, but as I said we didn’t. Maybe I should have pushed even more to get this extra striker But, like I said, we didn’t.”

If United had added a new dimension to their attacking ranks in January, would they be in a stronger position than they are now with just one game of the season left? How long is a string? We will never know.

But when you consider that United have only scored 21 goals and 10 have been scored by Cristiano Ronaldo since the close of the January transfer window, it suggests that there has been too much reliance on the Portuguese captain. He scored hat-tricks against both Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City and saved them a point against Chelsea when they needed a hero.

In addition, in the three games Ronaldo has missed since the window was closed, United have only scored two goals, making it clear why they are losing without him and why the theory that he is ‘the problem’ is nothing but ridiculous. † But Ronaldo’s ability to score 24 goals in a United team that has underperformed all season should raise questions about what he might be able to do if they improve under Erik ten Hag, should he become a key part of the plans of the Dutchman.

In recent days, reports have suggested that Ten Hag wants to harness Ronaldo’s talents during his debut season at Old Trafford – and why wouldn’t he? He is one of the greatest players of all time and his heroism in front of goal this season has disproved all theories that he had given his best.

But it does raise a conundrum as to the type of striker United should sign this summer to bolster their attacking options and fill the void left by Cavani. His contract will expire next month and he will leave the club.

Rangnick stressed in February how important it is for United to sign a younger striker this coming summer to lower the average age of their attackers. Benfica star Darwin Nunez is one of the names most strongly associated with Old Trafford.

While the lack of Champions League football would hamper United’s chances of signing him, plus someone like Erling Haaland, unless Ten Hag takes on a front-two formation, Ronaldo’s presence at United next season could reduce a newcomer’s chances. to be hindered. an ordinary starter.

Next season will of course herald the start of a new era at United, but if Ronaldo stays, he cannot be left out of the equation; he must continue as their commander in chief at the top of the field. He may be 37, but his performances this season have proved that he cannot be ignored.

Therefore, the presence of Ronaldo will force United to think very smartly and strategically about who they could sign and who would be content to play second fiddle to the former Real Madrid man. Perhaps Rangnick’s smart recruiting record will come into its own if you check this particular box.

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