The future of Cristiano Ronaldo lies in the hands of Erik ten Hag, as the new Manchester United boss will need to evaluate whether the 37-year-old fits into his plans for United next season.
In his debut column for CaughtOffside, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano stated that the five-time Balon d’Or winner hopes to stay at United but, as mentioned above, only if Erik ten Hag is really sure he can believe in the Portuguese international as a key player to his system.
The transfer journalist continued by saying: “My understanding is also that Cristiano would have no problem accepting the arrival of another striker on the market – Man United will 100% sign a new central striker but this is not linked to the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Man United are set to lose Edison Cavani this summer upon the expiration of his contract, Romano states that Marcus Rashford has been considering his future since February and the future of Anthony Martial is also unclear, therefore, a striker is 100% needed.
If Ronaldo wants to stay in Manchester, ten Hag will find it hard to move him on, as that would be a huge first move to make at his new club. It should be expected that the Portuguese man will play with the Red Devils next season and a strike partner could benefit the 37-year-old.
Ten Hag usually opts for a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system, but if the Dutchman comes to the conclusion that the United striker could do with a partner, this is Caughtoffside’s top three picks to partner the Man United legend.
Benfica – Darwin Nunez
One of the hottest properties in world football at present is Benfica’s Darwin Nunez, who is having an incredible season in Portugal. The Uruguayan has scored 34 goals in 40 games this campaign and is on the radar of many clubs, which includes Man United reports the Daily Mail.
The 22-year-old would complement Ronaldo perfectly in a front two; thanks to his work rate, pace and ability to run behind defensive lines, which the Portuguese international can’t do at this stage in his career. The Uruguayan is a handful for defenders and at the very least, would take some of the attention away from the 37-year-old.
Benfica are believed to be holding out for at least £60million for the striker reports the Mail, which will most likely include add-ons. This would be a huge coup for Man United, should they lure the 22-year-old to Old Trafford.
Napoli – Victor Osimhen
Napoli could be willing to let star striker Victor Osimhen go this summer but will look for £84million for the Nigerian international should they decide to sell in the upcoming window reports the Express.
The same outlet reports that Manchester United are interested in signing the Napoli man this summer, after trying to sign the player already back in January 2020.
Osimhen would be superb attention to United’s squad and the best is still yet to come from the 23-year-old. The striker is very fast, a good finisher and is an overall, very intelligent player. The Nigerian’s speed would complement Ronaldo’s abilities and he could also lead the line solo if required.
The Napoli man has scored 17 goals in 29 games this campaign, despite suffering a serious cheekbone injury back in November. This would be an expensive venture, but it could be worth it.
RB Leipzig – Christopher Nkunku
Christopher Nkunku is a man RB Leipzig will do everything they can to keep hold of this summer, as some of Europe’s biggest clubs circle around the 24-year-old.
A report from L’Equipe, states that the Bundesliga side wants to make the Frenchman the key man to build their project around, but the French star has his heart set on a move in the upcoming window, with Manchester United one of the clubs interested.
Nkunku’s season in German has been mesmeric, with the forward putting up incredible numbers for Leipzig. The 24-year-old has a ridiculous 30 goals and 20 assists in 48 matches this season and has played a key role in helping Leipzig get to the DFB-Pokal final and a potential Europa League final this campaign.
The Frenchman isn’t exactly a striker but plays in the position often with a partner. The Leipzig man is incredibly creative, evident in the numbers above, and would be a superb partner for Ronaldo. Nkunku is also incredibly versatile and can play anywhere across a front three or as a ten.
There are so many good things to say about this player that it would take an hour just to write them all down, therefore, it is easier to say that this would be one of the best bits of business United will have ever done if they could bring the French star to Old Trafford.
Nkunku’s contract at Leipzig expires in 2024, which means this could be an expensive deal to complete, as the Bundesliga side are under no pressure to sell this summer.
This summer is set to be a big one for everyone associated with Manchester United, as the Erik ten Hag era gets underway. It is an era that United have to get right or else run the risk of falling even further behind Liverpool and Manchester City, who are well clear at the top of the English game at present.
The future of Ronaldo will be one of the most interesting stories this summer but should the United legend stay, any of the above three forwards, would be an excellent choice to partner the 37-year-old next season.