ten Hag remains coy on Ronaldo's Man Utd future
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Manchester United think Marcus Rashford can step up and replace Cristiano Ronaldo as a central striker if the Portugal international ends up leaving, according to reports. The 37-year-old is eager to play in the Champions League this season and, earlier in the summer, informed the Red Devils that he wanted out. With days of the transfer window remaining, however, there’s no guarantee he’ll get his wish.
Manchester United have benched Ronaldo for three of their first four Premier League matches, with Rashford starting the last two against Southampton and Liverpool down the middle.
The England international has looked threatening, too, with the 24-year-old netting in the 2-1 win over Jurgen Klopp’s side last week.
And Goal claim that Ten Hag thinks Rashford can be the perfect replacement for Ronaldo should the veteran depart, along with Anthony Martial.
Throughout most of his time at United, Rashford has been used as a left winger.
He was initially a striker when he burst onto the scene under Louis van Gaal but, under the likes of Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has been used out wide instead.
With Rashford looking a threat down the middle, however, it’s possible he’s now set for a change of position.
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Martial will also be hoping to start as a centre-forward once he returns from injury, having netted four times during pre-season.
And with Antony arriving from Ajax, Ten Hag is hoping his frontline can be far more fluid and interchangeable than has previously been the case at Old Trafford.
While Ronaldo wants to leave United behind for a Champions League team, there’s currently no indication that’ll happen.
Napoli are interested in the 37-year-old but want him on loan, with the Red Devils unwilling to pay Ronaldo to play for a different team.
Chelsea have supposedly re-opened talks with the veteran’s agent, Jorge Mendes, but Thomas Tuchel isn’t inclined to sanction a deal.
And while Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have previously been linked, the two European giants seem to have different priorities as the clock ticks down.
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That means Ronaldo could end up being stuck at United.
And, to make things even worse for the forward, Rashford and Martial may end up being Ten Hag’s preferred picks as he looks to make his mark at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo has promised to give an interview after the transfer window shuts where he’ll open up on how he’s been feeling this summer.
And Ten Hag recently criticised that decision, saying he doesn’t know what the Portugal international wants to achieve by speaking out.
If Ronaldo does go, then Rashford is poised to save the Glazers millions on a new forward.
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And while the Americans are still polarising figures, they’ve decided to open the purse strings this summer – with the club accelerating plans following their recent 4-0 defeat to Brentford.
That match, which was the last Ronaldo started, prompted John Murtough into negotiating deals for Casemiro and Antony.
And United are now hopeful they’ve turned a corner under Ten Hag, particularly after losing their first two fixtures of the campaign.
Speaking recently, meanwhile, former United star Paul Parker urged his old side to offload both Ronaldo and Chelsea-linked Harry Maguire.
He told talkSPORT: “When I look at Ronaldo I think that they need to cut their losses and let him go.
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“He’s unhappy, he wants to play every week and I think they’ve got to let him go even if they have to pay him off or something.
“I don’t think they’ll get much money for him, but I look at Harry Maguire and Ten Hag mentioned something that he was looking for in his back line and he wants mobility and pace.
“Straight away, there’s two words there that make it difficult for Harry Maguire to be playing regularly for Manchester United.
“To see the first goal that comes from Martinez, as soon as the ball comes to him he passes it out wide to Elanga – he’s not having two or three touches to make his mind up.
“United were a much better team going forward because they were getting the ball into midfield a lot quicker than the back four that they’d been playing with over the last few years.”
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