Cristiano Ronaldo was conspicuous by his absence as Manchester United again lined up without captain Harry Maguire in the FA Cup third-round clash with Aston Villa.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo was not in the squad at Old Trafford, where Ralf Rangnick made five alterations as Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford came in.
United defender Maguire again missed out through injury while Villa welcomed back Tyrone Mings and Ollie Watkins.
Asked about Ronaldo’s absence, Rangnick told MUTV: “I spoke with Cristiano yesterday before training, he told me that he’s had some problems for the last couple of days.
“Minor problems, but in the end, we decided that it made more sense to not take any risks in a game that could easily last 120 minutes, so we just decided to rest him, not play him at all.”
Man Utd chances of Zakaria deal clarified
Meanwhile, Manchester United are yet to make an offer for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, who is reportedly the subject of interest from at least four clubs.
Zakaria is out of contract at the end of the season and Gladbach have already confirmed he will be leaving. It remains unclear whether that will be in the summer for free, or in January for a fee.
Either way, there are several clubs queueing up for the Switzerland international. The chance to sign someone like him on such low terms as he enters the prime of his career at 25 years old is inviting.
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Among the frontrunners for his signature are Man Utd. They are in need of a new midfielder to provide balance to the team.
With Paul Pogba’s contract expiring at the end of the season as well, there is a further emphasis on why Man Utd need to strengthen there.
Reports have indicated that Ralf Rangnick is a fan of the Bundesliga talent and could make a move for him. In fact, there were even claims that Zakaria is Man Utd’s most likely January signing.
However, things do not seem to be so advanced yet. Fabrizio Romano has provided an update in which he clarifies that United are yet to make a bid for Zakaria.
The transfer reporter tweeted: “Manchester United have made no bid for Denis Zakaria as things stand. The option has been discussed as he’s appreciated by Rangnick. But there’s still no official bid to Borussia.
“More than four clubs are already working to sign Zakaria as free agent in July. Open race.”
Man Utd face battle to get their man
Therefore, Romano has confirmed that Rangnick likes Zakaria, but so do many other clubs as Man Utd should have been expecting.
Whether they will win the race or not, only time will tell.
Zakaria, for now, will continue representing Gladbach in his final season with them. So far in 2021-22, he has made 16 appearances and scored two goals.