What 14 pundits and ex-players have told Man United to do with Ronaldo

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Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (L) celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo after beating Fulham in the Premier League. Craven Cottage, February 24, 2007.

The uncertainty surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s future has been a major talking point at Manchester United. It’s the question on everybody’s lips: just what should United do with the 37-year-old?

Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions for United in 2021-22 but reportedly wants to leave the club and has started on the bench in three of Erik ten Hag’s first four games.

We’ve taken a look at what pundits and former players have said about the situation.

Wayne Rooney

“I think United should let Cristiano Ronaldo go,” Rooney wrote in his column for The Times.

“It’s not that Ronaldo can’t play in a Ten Hag team. He can play in any team. Ronny will always score you goals. But my personal view is that United aren’t ready to challenge for the title now, so the aim has to be to build a team that can win the league in the next three to four years, and you have to plan for that.

“If the reports are true that Cristiano wants to leave the club, then United should allow him to go and get a No.9 in who is going to be there for the next three or four years and really help them build a team that can be successful. Ten Hag has to be given time to do it.”

Rio Ferdinand

“People are saying you’ve got to let Ronaldo go,” Ferdinand told William Hill. “Well, get someone in who can score 25 goals first.

“Darwin Nunez has gone, Erling Haaland has gone and Robert Lewandowski has gone. They were the three players that you were thinking, ‘These are the only ones that you were going to go for that will outright come into the Manchester United team immediately.’ They’re gone.

“So Manchester United can’t let Ronaldo go, they can’t. Even if he’s begging to go, they just can’t let him go. It’s not the right thing to do, I don’t think.”

Gary Neville

“Ronaldo’s achievements in football have gone beyond anything that anybody could have wished for and imagined,” Neville said on The Overlap.

“He will go down as one of the top players of all time and always will be. What happens this summer at Manchester United will be forgotten about in 20 years.

“But it’s unpalatable for me to watch as an ex-Manchester United captain, thinking that at this moment in time the star player in the dressing room is playing up.

“It has happened at times over the last few years, where you had [Paul] Pogba’s agent – not necessarily Pogba – but his agent always playing up.

“You can’t have your star player in a club running the shop. You cannot have it. So when Sir Alex Ferguson in the past moved players on, it’s because that player needed to be moved on.

“I know Manchester United fans want Ronaldo to stay. But if Ronaldo wants to leave, Manchester United – in my mind – should facilitate that.”

Paul Scholes

“I thought looking at the game today they needed Cristiano he could have been that focal point in the team,” Scholes told BT Sport after the 1-0 win over Southampton.

“They really lacked a focal point centrally and Cristiano is more of focal point these days. You get to 37 years of age you’re not going to go sprinting away from people, he is very good at holding the ball up and getting on the end of crosses, whereas [Anthony] Martial is totally different.

“There will be times when different players are needed. I hope Cristiano doesn’t go but if he does I think they’re going to need a centre forward.”

Roy Keane

“You can’t let Ronaldo go out the door and think Martial is going to be the answer, Martial isn’t the answer,” Keane said on Sky Sports.

“He’s had a decent pre-season? Big deal. They haven’t got enough options at this moment in time. That might change in the next few weeks but from a footballing point of view, you just have to hold on to Ronaldo.

“You can’t let him go when you haven’t got the back-up behind it.”

READ: The 4 players Man Utd signed along with Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003

Paul Ince

“Cristiano Ronaldo has to leave Man United,” he told Boyles Sports after the 2-1 win over Liverpool. “If he was in the Man United dressing room when I was playing with the likes of Roy Keane and Steve Bruce, we wouldn’t be putting up with him and he wouldn’t be getting away with anything.

“Leaving Ronaldo out of the starting 11 yesterday was so important because it shows people that there can be life without Ronaldo. He’s been a distraction for everyone at Man United. He hasn’t had the desired effect that everyone thought he would and you wouldn’t see Lionel Messi acting the way he has at times.”

Tom Cleverley

“It’s a difficult one, he’s been an absolute legend at the club,” Cleverley told talkSPORT Breakfast. “Do I think he helps them get Champions League football? For sure.

“He’s not a No.9 that’s going to win you Champions Leagues and leagues anymore but I don’t think that’s where United are at.

“I think he definitely has a big part to play for the club, without his goals they would struggle even more.

“But as far as a long-term direction they need to find a different way which is what they’re struggling with at the minute.”

Patrice Evra

“The Cristiano Ronaldo saga is another issue,” Evra told Betfair. “Is he staying? Is he leaving? It’s created a lot of confusion with fans.

“He’s still here, the transfer window isn’t closed but I think, personally knowing Cristiano, if he doesn’t play he would like to leave. I think this would be the best for him and for United.”

Wes Brown

“He’s a different breed,” Brown told Express Sport when asked about Ronaldo. “We need to make signings regardless but keeping Ronaldo will be a big plus, just look at the goals he got us this year.

“You can say lots of things good or bad, but ultimately he will score you goals as well.

“Obviously [Edinson] Cavani has gone. Pretty much every position we need to improve on and I’m pretty sure the manager will know that, he’s been told that’s absolutely fine and the funds are there to do that.”

Jamie Carragher

“[Jurgen] Klopp comes into Liverpool straight away, they’d bought players under Brendan Rodgers that summer,” he told the Overlap in May.

“I think [Christian] Benteke cost them about £35-40million. It was a few quid, he was a big signing, centre forward, and he was like ‘You’re not for me, out!’ And making that big bold decision straight away, it makes everyone sit up and think ‘Oh this fella takes this job seriously!’

“I’m convinced he’s [Ten Hag] got to do that with Ronaldo, whether he’s allowed to or not, and 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, and I’m seen as criticising him – Ronaldo is a million times better than I could ever be, I couldn’t 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 played in some of the best teams and has the attitude of wanting to be the main man, trying to get the goals, driving people on, and when you’re in a great team, that’s something I’m seeing as a positive.

“When you’re not playing in a great team it can be something that is seen as a negative, and I think it has been a negative this season.”

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

“You do not want an unhappy player – especially a player of that calibre,” he said. “You want him to be happy. If you are going to work with Ronaldo you know that you are going to build your team around him.

“But if he is not happy, on the amount of money that you pay, maybe use that for some other players and use it within the squad. You are not going to be able to replace him but you can make the team better in different places.

“I think if Ronaldo wants to go, then you let him go. He is at an age where maybe he can play one more year in the Champions League. So try and get as much money for him, sell him and try to build a squad and make the team stronger.”

Alan Smith

“If Ronaldo wants to go then let him go.” the former Arsenal striker told 888 Casino. “He’s someone who obviously wants to play Champions League football. He has come in at United and done the job [that], for him, he was paid to do, which is to score goals.

“But [Erik] Ten Hag now obviously wants a clean slate and no distractions. ‘Ronaldo is not playing this week, he’s on the bench.’

“You don’t know any of that and it’s all a bit of a soap opera really. So if he wants to go then try to get that sorted early doors.

“I’m not sure how efficient they are at Manchester United and they’re in a state of flux with a new manager but Ten Hag will want to get a squad together that he actually wants to work with.”

Paul Merson

“Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the only player at Manchester United who hasn’t been a disappointment this season,” Merson told Sportsskeeda. “His individual numbers add up and he has been their most consistent player over the past year.

“While Ronaldo did score his goals, I don’t think he helped the team much. The new manager’s got a hard job coming up.

“If you keep Ronaldo for another year, that’s another year without much of a plan. If he does well next year and Manchester United come third, it’s a waste – because he’ll leave after that.

“Manchester United need a plan for the future, and they need to start addressing it sooner rather than later.”

Glen Johnson

“Yes, I think they should [Sell Ronaldo],” he told BettingOdds. “There have been strong rumours of his departure and there’s no smoke without fire. I’m not saying he’s a bad apple but it isn’t working at the moment.

“I don’t know if he’s causing problems because I’m not in the dressing room. If the rumours are true then it makes sense.”

He finished: “The other players should be bigger and stronger and not allow one player to upset the whole dressing room. It’s probably got an element of truth in it, but it can’t all be true.”

READ MORE: Where are they now? The Man Utd Xl from Cristiano Ronaldo’s CL debut