Will he stay or will he go? That’s the question on every Manchester United fan’s mind concerning the status of Cristiano Ronaldo for next season. With the Red Devils set to miss out on Champions League football next season, it means the Portuguese forward is threatened by the prospect of missing out on the elite competition for the first time in his career.
Many regarded Ronaldo as ‘Mr Champions League’ after winning the competition 5 times and being its all-time highest scorer. As a result, speculation continues growing that he might walk away from United in the summer.
The Red Devils probably can’t do much more than let him go if he pushes for it. They’ll also have to look for a replacement if that happens. Here we look at 3 potential options United can look into.
Darwin Nunez as Ronaldo’s long-term successor?
The reality of the situation right now is that United won’t get any high quality forwards for cheap to potentially replace Ronaldo. ‘Goal machines’ have very high prices because of their impact on the team. Darwin Nunez is a player that is being tracked by the Red Devils. United are ‘counting on’ the Uruguayan to lead their attack next season (as per Record).
Nunez can be the perfect response to Man City signing Erling Haaland. The Benfica striker has traits of Edinson Cavani and Ronaldo, knowing exactly how to pounce on chances. The 22-year-old has scored 32 goals in all competitions this season.
WhoScored state his strengths to be dribbling, finishing and key passes – making him the all-round prolific forward United are looking for. Benfica reportedly want a fee of £85m, but knowing his potential and all-around explosive style, Nunez can be the perfect long-term successor to Ronaldo.
Joao Felix, the next Portuguese after Cristiano
If Ronaldo is truly leaving in the summer, then why not replace him with another Portuguese? Joao Felix is close to reaching his peak and it was rumoured in December that he could be looking to leave the club this year (as per AS).
Felix is a slick, versatile attacker with a high IQ of football and the ability to play almost anywhere in the attacking areas. He has scored 10 goals and registered 6 assists for a defensive Atletico side this season, giving hints of reaching his best. The stumbling block, however, could be his price tag as Atletico would want something close to the €125m spent on signing the forward.
As per WhoScored, he possesses a number of strengths, like: holding onto the ball, passing ability, chance creation, finishing, dribbling and long-range shooting. Felix has the potential to reach the very top and even win the Ballon d’Or someday.
United would want to be the one to benefit from his peak, even if meant spending big, and signing a mobile, menacing forward to replace Ronaldo can definitely revitalize and energize their attack.
Harry Kane – the ideal goal-scorer to succeed Ronaldo
Harry Kane has been a player admired in Manchester for a long time now. Man City reportedly tried to sign him last summer and failed and now Man United are eager to look into a deal for him. Kane is among the Premier League’s best strikers, having scored an incredible 179 goals for Tottenham Hotspur.
He can be the Robin van Persie-esque signing for United. The Red Devils are looking to make an offer for him in the summer, and Kane is eager to listen to it (as per The Sun). Not just is the Englishman an elite goal-scorer with deft finishing skills, but he can also create chances at will after dropping deep – as proven by his 9 assists this season.
Spurs will probably play hardball over Kane, despite only 2 years remaining on his contract. They’ll likely want over £100m and urge United to break the transfer record for him.
But if United want a striker who can make a bigger impact than Ronaldo and help them win or majorly challenge for the Premier League title in the next 3-4 years, an experienced candidate like Kane is the perfect option.