Paul Merson has told incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag he needs to move Cristiano Ronaldo on or risk wasting his first year in the hot seat at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag plans a big shake-up when he takes charge at the end of the season. A host of players are heading for the exit door, with some big new signings expected. However, it remains to be seen what will happen with Ronaldo.
United look to be at rock bottom following the humiliating 4-0 loss at Brighton on Saturday. There will be no Champions League football next season, and Ronaldo may not stick around without it. If he stays, it will be the first time in 20 years he has not played in Europe’s elite competition.
Ten Hag will have spoken with Ronaldo, but everyone else has been left guessing about what will happen. Some reports say that ten Hag is keen to keep the 37-year-old on board. Despite the fact he is looking to bring in a new striker, He believes that Ronaldo still has a big role to play.
However, speaking in his column for the Daily Star, Merson believes that would be a big mistake. The former Arsenal star, turned pundit, says Ten Hag will be wasting a year if he keeps him. He believes it is impossible to build for the future with Ronaldo in the squad.
Merson has even said that Ronaldo has been part of the problem this season. despite scoring 24 goals in 37 appearances.
“Erik ten Hag must bite the bullet and get rid of Cristiano Ronaldo or he’ll waste his first year at Manchester United,” Merson wrote.
“If you’re bringing in a manager who’s going to be there for the next three or four years, you can’t waste one on a striker who isn't." Ronaldo has had a good season. But everyone else at the club has been atrocious. Why do you think that is?
Some players bring out the best in those around them. Some players make them worse. That’s what Ronaldo has done. Look at what Karim Benzema is doing for Real Madrid. He’s scored 43 goals this season. I don’t remember him doing that when Ronaldo was there. ”
Cristiano Ronaldo has a role to play.
Merson’s comments are harsh. And it is unfair to suggest that Ronaldo does not bring out the best in players. Many would argue no-one could inspire the current United crop.
Ronaldo cannot be expected to lift the United dressing room on his own. although it seems he has given it a good shot. He has done his talking on the pitch. A lot of the others haven’t. Whether that is down to a poor attitude or not being good enough.
Despite Merson’s comments, Ronaldo is surely worth keeping if everyone is on the same page. Ronaldo’s stats say it all this season and he could go around again in 2022/23. He is still scoring goals and contributing. Combined with Ten Hag’s new arrivals, he could have a huge role to play in turning things around next season.
He would have to accept, however, that he would not play every week. That may not appeal and could result in him moving on.