Cristiano Ronaldo must leave Man Utd to remain a champion

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • 22 Jun 2022 11:29 CEST
  • 4 min read
FT Desk 22 Jun 2022 11:29 CEST 4 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, 2021/22

Cristiano Ronaldo is keen to spend his final few seasons at the top of world football - and Manchester United desperately need to get their summer transfer business in order if it's to be with them.

Ronaldo has won four Champions Leagues and five Ballons d'Or in a glittering career, and he remains at the peak of his game - for now - at 37 years of age.

The attacker, who also led Portugal to Euro 2016 glory, returned to Man Utd from Juventus last summer and duly plundered 18 Premier League goals, with only Mo Salah and Son Heung-min returning more with 23 apiece.

AS reports that Ronaldo is "worried" and is concerned that he may be wasting his final years in the elite at a team incapable of winning big prizes. Tellingly, this comes from a source that has often been on the money regarding the Portuguese.

Man Utd finished way off the pace

United finished some way off Manchester City's league-setting pace, however, some 35 points back in sixth - which also means they will miss out on Champions League football for the first time in six years next term.

City may have spent £100 million (€116.2m) on Jack Grealish from Aston Villa last summer, but Utd's overall transfer outlay - which as well as stealing Ronaldo from under City's noses included Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and Raphael Varane from Real Madrid - was €22.5m more than the champions spent.

New Man Utd CEO Richard Arnold, who succeeded Ed Woodward in February, was recently caught on camera articulating what many Red Devils fans have been feeling in recent seasons.

WARNING: Above video contains strong language

"We spent a billion pounds on players, more than anyone in Europe," he told a group of supporters who secretly recorded the conversation. "I'm not thrilled where we are. It doesn't sit easy with me and I worry how we get this sorted for the future.

"What's happened is we have f****ng burned through cash.

"You can't go to our training ground and say: 'show me where the £1 billion is' because we haven't spent money well historically. We've blown through an enormous amount of money."

Paul Pogba has left on a free, for the second time in his career, having been re-signed by Utd from Juventus for €105m in 2016, while Harry Maguire's position as captain is under threat despite his own massive price tag.

United have been slow in the market this summer, with manager Erik ten Hag's arrival from Ajax the only deal Arnold has thus far been able to get over the line. They have been linked with Brazil winger Antony - also from Ajax - but the fact that midfielder Ryan Gravenberch opted for Bayern Munich over getting the band back together at Old Trafford speaks volumes.

It stands in stark contrast to City and Liverpool, who have already secured blockbuster summer signings in Erling Haaland (€60m from Dortmund) and Darwin Nunez (€75m with a potential €25m in add-ons from Benfica) respectively.

Ten Hag might have different ideas to predecessors Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, but if United can't get their transfer business in order, City and Liverpool look set to pull clear once again next season.

If Ronaldo wants to remain at the top of the game, it might be time for him to find another project.