Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Cristiano Ronaldo news: Jamie Carragher makes Christian Benteke comparison in explaining why Erik ten Hag must sell Man Utd star

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, during the Premier League match against Watford at Vicarage Road

Jamie Carragher is doubling down on his claims that Erik ten Hag needs to make a big Manchester United statement by offloading this season’s top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese superstar returned to Old Trafford last summer, arriving from Juventus is a deal that cost United an initial £13m. And despite now being 37, he proved age was no barrier by scoring 24 goals this season. That made him United’s top scorer by some distance, with Bruno Fernandes next highest on 10.

However, despite his success, Ronaldo has continued to divide opinion. With interim boss Ralf Rangnick liking a high-pressing style, he found it hard to engineer results from United as they laboured to a sixth-placed finish.

And with successor Ten Hag also favouring a high-energy display, there are claims Ronaldo could find himself looking for a new club this summer.

That’s certainly a claim Carragher has made before, insisting United would be better off without him.

However, in an effort to quell the uncertainty, Ten Hag insisted Ronaldo will have a role to play at the club next season.

Despite his words of reassurance, Carragher is adamant that United would gain from his sale.

He reckons Ten Hag can make a real statement by making clear his intentions to do things his way.

Explaning his thinking, and comparing Ten Hag’s arrival to Pep Guardiola at City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, Carragher doubled down on his stance.

“I’m thinking of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp right now,” Carragher told The Overlap.

United better without Ronaldo

“When Pep came into Man City he just went, ‘Joe Hart, no.’ And everyone was like, wow this is England’s keeper he’s been a great player for City, but it was like ‘No, you’re not here’. When Klopp came into Liverpool, they had brought in players under Brendan Rodgers that summer.

“I think [Christian] Benteke cost £35-40m. He was certainly a few quid but Klopp said, ‘You’re not for me, out.’ It was like making that big bold decision straight away that makes everyone sit up and take note.

“I’m convinced that Ten Hag has got to do it with Ronaldo, whether he’s allowed to or not. I’ve said this consistently throughout this season: that was not a good signing. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time. I’m seen as a guy who’s criticising Ronaldo.

“Ronaldo is a million times a better player than I ever was. I am not fit to lace his boots obviously. But I’m not saying that to be disrespectful to him – he’s amazing! But Ronaldo has never played in a team this bad.

“He’s always played for great teams and his attitude of trying to be the main man, driving the team on, getting the goals, when you’re in a great team that is seen as a positive.

“When you’re not playing for a great team it can be seen as a negative and I think it has been this season. Man United can’t go into next season with a centre-forward who will be 38, even if he does score goals. That’s not right for Man United.”

Carragher has a point over Cristiano Ronaldo

The pundit has made a big call over Ronaldo and it’d take a brave man to bin him off.

The problem Ten Hag has is that he inherits a side totally bereft of confidence. Indeed, where would United have finished this season without Ronaldo’s goals?

After him, Fernandes scored 10 times. However, Marcus Rashford (five), Edinson Cavani (two) and Jadon Sancho (five) all failed to deliver regular goals.

Erik Ten Hag wants to partner Cristiano Ronaldo with Lauturo Martinez

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag wants to pair Cristiano Ronaldo with Lauturo Martinez from Inter Milan this summer

In the long term, Manchester United will need to replace Ronaldo anyway. He’s 37 and, despite his incredible fitness and athleticism, won’t be able to carry on forever.

And while Carragher makes a strong point, this summer probably isn’t the time for United to get rid. Instead they need to keep him on board as United prepare for something of a transitional phase.

And that should still be the case even if they do land a new striker this summer. Indeed, there will surely still be a role to play for the Portuguese superstar, regardless of their summer recruitment. To that end, all the top sides need at least two quality options per position in their ranks.

Meanwhile, United’s chances of landing Frenkie de Jong have been boosted amid an admission from Barcelona over ‘multiple bids’ for the midfielder.