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Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United making plans for life without Cristiano Ronaldo, Erik ten Hag to make emergency board request

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Erik ten Hag is already looking at replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo, who told the club he wants out this summer, and will step up their pursuit of Ajax forward Anthony

Manchester United are making plans for life without Cristiano Ronaldo after it emerged that the Portuguese superstar wants to quit Old Trafford.

According to Sunday Mirror, the new boss Erik ten Hag will urge United to replace the unhappy 37-year-old striker with Ajax’s young Brazilian forward Antony if Ronaldo is able to force his departure from the club for a second time.

United felt they had been priced out of a move to bring in the 22-year-old when Ajax slapped a £70million valuation on his head after Ten Hag quit the Amsterdam club to take over in Manchester.

But Ten Hag will put pressure on his new employers to splash the cash on Antony after it became clear that Ronaldo is ruthlessly engineering his exit.

United initially declined to comment on reports that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has asked to leave if a satisfactory offer is lodged by a club that is in the Champions League next season.

They later reiterated the stance they took last week when it emerged that the striker’s agent Jorge Mendes had met with new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly about a potential move to Stamford Bridge by saying Ronaldo is not for sale.

There have also been reports that he could link up again with Jose Mourinho at Roma.

And Bayern Munich are also in the frame to take Ronaldo to Germany if the Bundesliga champions lose Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich.

United’s owners realise that the departure of Ronaldo would be greeted with fury by the fans. Ten Hag is aware of the moves that Ronaldo’s camp have been making in recent weeks. And his solution would be to sign Antony, the Sao Paulo-born livewire who will be part of Brazil’s World Cup squad this winter.

Erik ten Hag will urge Man United to replace Cristiano Ronaldo with Anthony

Erik ten Hag will urge Man United to replace Cristiano Ronaldo with Anthony ( Image: Manchester United via Getty Imag)

That would mean United busting the transfer budget they handed Ten Hag on his appointment.

They have already committed more than £120million to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, bring in Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez and recruit Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia.

But they would demand a fee for Ronaldo after paying Juventus £13million last summer to bring the Portuguese back to Old Trafford. And they would also save the £500,000-a-week wages that Ronaldo commands.

Ronaldo wants to play in the Champions League during the twilight years of his career after spending the last 19 years playing in Europe’s top club competition.

He scored 24 goals on his return to England last season, but United finished a lowly sixth. Ronaldo feels the Europa League is beneath him.

Ten Hag wanted to bring in a new forward after agreeing to leave Ajax for United. But he quickly realised there were bigger weaknesses in the squad he inherited that needed addressing. That has prompted United to crank up moves for De Jong, Martinez and Malacia.

Ajax are reluctant to allow the team that Ten Hag built to be asset-stripped – and have slapped premium prices on both Antony and Martinez. But both players have made it clear they want the opportunity to move to the Premier League.

Ronaldo is scheduled for pre-season on Monday and Ten Hag will ask the striker if he is ready to honour the final 12 months of his contract.

United depart for their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia next week and Ten Hag wants to use the trip to establish his squad and a new way of playing.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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