Erik ten Hag discusses Cristiano Ronaldo's future
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United remains up in the air. News broke at the end of last month that the Portugal international wished to leave in order to pursue a new challenge elsewhere. And though links to Chelsea and Bayern Munich have gone cold, it’s feasible he’ll make a blockbuster move back to La Liga with Atletico Madrid.
United want Ronaldo to stay, just like they did back in 2009 when he departed for Real Madrid.
And that means the Red Devils must, once again, draw up a contingency plan if and when the Portugal international gets his way.
United have said publicly Ronaldo isn’t on the market, with Erik ten Hag insisting he’s excited to work with the veteran over at Old Trafford.
Yet, privately, there’s a sense the Red Devils could benefit from a parting of the ways – especially if that didn’t involve a move across the country.
United, upon losing Ronaldo in 2009, signed three players.
But while the trio had their moments in a red shirt, they never got remotely close to being a sufficient replacement for the Portugal international.
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When United lost Ronaldo, they proceeded to raid Wigan for Luis Antonio Valencia – who had impressed during his time in England.
Valencia had stood out over at the JJB Stadium, as it was known at the time.
And Sir Alex Ferguson thought he’d be a top replacement for Ronaldo at the time, having accepted the departure of his talisman.
Yet while Valencia didn’t bring the goals of his predecessor, he did become a cult hero during his time at Old Trafford.
Valencia made 339 appearances for United, helping them win two Premier League titles in the process.
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And he was also part of the side that won the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal in 2016, as well as the Europa League and Carabao Cup under Jose Mourinho the following year.
A second player United landed all those years ago was Michael Owen.
Owen was given Ronaldo’s No 7 shirt and was recruited despite injuries hampering him during his spell at Newcastle.
He lasted just two years with the Red Devils, winning the league title under Ferguson before leaving for Stoke in 2011.
But Owen still had some positive moments in a red shirt, even though he was undoubtedly past his peak.
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His last-minute winner against Manchester City was particularly memorable, coming at the death in a thrilling match at Old Trafford in 2009.
And Owen also bagged a fine hat-trick as United beat Wolfsburg in the Champions League, too.
The third player United signed to fill the void left by Ronaldo’s departure was Gabriel Obertan.
But, when it comes to the winger, the less said about him the better.
Obertan never remotely lived up to expectations with United, spending just two years with the club before joining Newcastle.
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Fast-forward to now, and it’s clear United will need to do better should Ronaldo be granted his wish of a move away.
Antony is one player who could arrive, with Ten Hag previously managing the Brazil international at Ajax.
And Memphis Depay would be another alternative, although talk of him returning to United seems far-fetched.
United, in 2009, actually wanted the likes of Karim Benzema, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa and Franck Ribery.
But none of the quartet arrived, with only Ferguson’s unique genius ensuring more trophies came to Old Trafford.
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