Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag will pressure Man Utd into signing surprise replacement if Cristiano Ronaldo severs ties

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United star, ahead of Premier League clash against Brighton at AMEX Stadium

Erik ten Hag will meet with Cristiano Ronaldo to determine his future today, and Man Utd chiefs will be urged to sign a surprise replacement if he leaves, per a report.

News broke on Saturday evening of Ronaldo wanting out of Old Trafford. The 37-year-old has spent just one year back in Manchester and was by far and a way the club’s top scorer last season.

However, those around him couldn’t play up to the striker’s high standards. United missed out on Champions League qualification and their absence from that competition is the primary factor behind Ronaldo’s exit plans.

Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli have been reported as potential landing spots. Ronaldo’s future was among the topics of discussion between new Chelsea owner, Todd Boehly, and Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, last month.

Man Utd broke their silence on the developments. Both the Athletic and PA reported the Red Devils have no intention of selling and fully expect Ronaldo to honour his contract. He has another 12 months remaining, while there’s an option for another year after that.

However, according to the Mirror, Ronaldo’s future in Manchester is far from certain.

The newspaper state a meeting will take place today (Monday) between the player and Erik ten Hag.

That coincides with Ronaldo’s return to pre-season training. The outlet say Ten Hag will ascertain whether his centre-forward is ready to honour his contract.

Ronaldo replacement a winger?

If the answer is no, it’s reported the new Manchester United boss will put pressure on the club to sign Ajax winger, Antony.

The 22-year-old is known to be keen on joining his former boss at Old Trafford. Ajax are being stripped of many of their finest playing assets this summer, including potentially Lisandro Martinez to United.

As such, they’ve reportedly stuck a £69m price tag on Antony, though Ten Hag will put pressure on United chiefs to make a deal happen if Ronaldo goes regardless.

That news is something of a surprise given Antony operates solely out wide. Edinson Cavani has also departed as a free agent, meaning United’s central options would be down to Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Ten Hag eyeing more fluid attack?

Ronaldo was highly effective in front of goal last season. However, it cannot be argued he was a hinderance to the side from a defensive standpoint.

United were effectively defending with a man light when Ronaldo played. That is not something that can ever be said of the teams Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp field, with every player at Man City and Liverpool expected to do their part.

Chelsea are another team who look to be building a more fluid and mobile front line. Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter Milan and their targets in the final third are all wingers.

Ten Hag may be sizing up a similar strategy if Ronaldo does break away. While they would lose potency if Ronaldo does go, they may gain in defensive workrate and overall balance of the eleven.