Erik ten Hag to 'deal with' Ronaldo early exit down tunnel
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With Cristiano Ronaldo’s days at Manchester United appearing to be numbered, Erik ten Hag has reportedly shortlisted three potential targets. Jonathan David, Patrik Schick and Moussa Dembele are said to be on his radar as the New Year creeps closer. And with money in short supply for the January transfer window, it’s the latter who would perhaps represent the shrewdest piece of business.
Manchester United won’t have much money to spend in January, regardless of what happens with Ronaldo.
The Red Devils overspent in the summer, at least when it comes to balancing their books, with the likes of Antony, Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia all setting them back.
Christian Eriksen was snapped up for free, while United are believed to have paid £4m to loan in Martin Dubravka as a replacement for Dean Henderson.
Ten Hag has, publicly, said he wants Ronaldo to stay at Old Trafford.
Though the Portugal international has netted just twice so far this term, his manager feels he’s worth keeping with. It is Ronaldo, after all.
But, more and more, it seems like a parting of the ways is inevitable – especially in the wake of the 37-year-old’s refusal to come on in last week’s stirring 2-0 win over Tottenham.
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Amid the uncertainty over Ronaldo’s long-term future at the club, it’s emerged three players are on the club’s radar.
Lille star David is one of them, with the Canada international scoring nine goals from 12 Ligue 1 appearances so far this term.
Schick is another, despite the Bayer Leverkusen star only netting twice form 10 Bundesliga games – having bagged 24 from 27 last term.
And Dembele is also in United’s sights, with the France international previously scoring 21 goals from 30 matches last term.
With money set to be in short supply this winter, then it’s the Lyon star who is arguably the best option given the current situation.
Dembele, who was linked with United when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ruled the roost, is valued at £16.2million – according to Transfermarkt.
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That’s certainly far cheaper than both Schick and David, who are valued at £45m and £40.5m respectively.
Dembele isn’t exactly a blockbuster name in world football, despite his impressive goal record at the likes of Lyon and Celtic over the years.
He also previously turned out in the Premier League for Fulham, bagging 15 goals from 43 appearances when the Cottagers were in the Championship in the 2015/2016 campaign.
Dembele had a disastrous loan spell at Atletico Madrid, where he failed to score from seven appearances in La Liga and the Champions League.
But given his affordability, he could be the most-appealing option in the event that Ronaldo ends up jumping ship.
Certainly, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with United having a mixed record when it comes to January signings over the years.
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Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra became hits upon moving in 2006, while Bruno Fernandes has flourished ever since his transfer from Sporting Lisbon back in January 2020.
But Alexis Sanchez, Zoran Tosic and Wilfried Zaha never lived up to expectations during their respective stints at the club.
Regarding Ronaldo, meanwhile, Roy Keane recently expressed a belief the 37-year-old’s temper has been boiling over for a while.
“He [Ten Hag] is disappointed Ronaldo didn’t want to go on,” he said on Sky Sports. “Walking down the tunnel, he’s been punished. He’s had enough, he’s lost his head.
“It’s been brewing for the last few weeks. He’s a human being, he’s got flaws, he’s frustrated he’s not got opportunities, he’s had enough.
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“He’s walked down the tunnel, players have done worse at Man United.
“United’s best performance in years? Absolute rubbish, Spurs were terrible. United beat Spurs last year at home and Ronaldo got a hat-trick. He was more than capable of getting onto the pitch and making a difference.
“He has to take his punishment. I still think Ronaldo, his behaviour over the last week, he refused to go on, I’d be more worried if Ronaldo was laughing his head off. I think he cares, he cares about the club, he wants to play, he needs to play.
“He’s the leading goalscorer for Man United last season. A bad Man United team, but still their leading goalscorer.
“Late in the game, two or three minutes to go, not too sure that was a clever move. He’s got to take his medicine. Back for Manchester United before the World Cup? I don’t see it.”
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