Replacing Ronaldo: Who will United turn to?

Worth more than Newcastle United?

Worth more than Newcastle United?

So Ronaldo is finally on his way to Real Madrid it seems, but after the endless speculation over the past couple of seasons, no one is really surprised. Anyone who has seen Ronaldo sulk this season would have known that Ferguson wasn’t going to waste his time trying to keep him when he clearly had desires elsewhere. I suppose the only heir of mystery about the whole deal was how much the fee would eventually be – turns out it’s £80m, which is pretty mind blowing.

I mean yeah, we all knew he’d go for a hell of a lot of money, but the recurring figure in the press seemed to be around £75m and given that it was the tabloids’ estimate, you could have suggested that it would actually be around £60m. Instead though they’ve even exceeded the tabloid’s hyperbolas predictions and United look set to receive almost as much money for one player as Mike Ashley will get for an entire club – if he can talk someone into selling Newcastle.

The question that remains then, is how is Ferguson going to spend all that cash?

Obviously Cristiano Ronaldo is going to leave a fairly large whole in United’s side, his contribution over the past two seasons especially have been exceptional and there probably isn’t a player in the world who can replace him. Luckily for Ferguson, he now has the cash to go and buy about four world class players, so he will probably manage to fill the void somehow. Here’s a few likely candidates and my thoughts on the likelihood of each signing.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester United – on loan)
Now that United have a) lost one of their front players and b) got a load of cash burning a hole in their pocket, Carlos may find himself back in demand at Old Trafford. It was no secret that United were reluctant to splash £32m on him, but given the loss of Ronaldo, Ferguson may reconsider. Ronaldo operated less as an out and out winger and more as a roaming forward for United, and though Tevez perhaps lacks some of the versatility of C-Ron, he more than makes up for it in work rate and commitment.

However, I don’t think Ferguson will sign Tevez. £32m is just too much for him, he’s good, but for that money he should be great, and he isn’t. Ferguson will not want to be ripped off and knowing that he has almost unlimited spending power now, he will probably prefer to explore more realistic options. Furthermore, Tevez seemed quite bitter about how things ended at United, their apparent reluctance to fork out for him and his time spent on the bench means I don’t think he’d be too keen to commit permanently anyway.
They Think It’s All Over… verdict: No go.

Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
The Frenchman has lit up the Bundesliga for the past two seasons, but with Bayern unable to compete at the very top in Europe, he must be pretty keen to move on and prove that he’s up there with the very best in the world. There’s been rumours a-plenty too, with United and Madrid seemingly keen, and I think one way or the other, Ribery will be moving house this Summer.

I’m fairly confident that Ferguson will make a move for him too, he’s a prefect replacement for Ronaldo, not as good perhaps, but a devastating winger who will be a good foil for the likes of Rooney and Berbatov. The only snags in a possible move to United are that the Frenchman has apparently dissed the English climate (wuss) and that Florentino Perez and his seemingly bottomless pockets are also interested. It may come down to Ribery’s preference, and if he’s got any sense he’ll choose United, but I’m not sure.
They Think It’s All Over… verdict: 50/50.

Karim Benzema (Olympique Lyonnais)
The young centre forward is very highly rated in the football world, and anyone who has played Football Manager recently will know that the kid has the potential to go to the very top. So far Lyon have done well to hang on to him but I think this summer, with all the money flying around and the transfer window resembling more of a transfer merry-go-round I think he’ll make a move.

Ferguson has long been touted as an admirer of the Frenchman too, and I have a hunch that he’ll be willing to splash the cash on him. He likes them young and Benzema has a bit of power that to be honest is lacking from United’s front line – neither Berbatov nor Rooney are really ‘target man’ material, but I think Benzema has a good combo of pace and power – not dissimilar to one Mr. Torres, and Fergie would love to have such a star on his hands. Again, competition may be fierce, but I think Fergie could get his man on this one.
They Think It’s All Over… verdict: United’s new number 7.

Sergio Agüero (Atletico Madrid)
Like Benzema, Agüero is near legendary in the FM circles and everybody in football is aware of the talent he possesses. He’s done himself no harm during his time at Atletico Madrid either, and it may be time for him to take a step up to the top level. Comparisons with Torres are perhaps to be expected as he was the man they signed to fill the Spaniard’s boots, but they’re a little different in style. He’s a potent finisher with bags of pace but doesn’t have the stature of Torres, however that doesn’t stop him from making an impression on defenders.

I’m not sure about this one. Agüero is certainly highly rated and it wouldn’t surprise me if he did move to one of Europe’s top clubs, but I think that Fergie would probably just sign Tevez instead. They’re a similar type of player and with Tevez already established in the United squad it would make more sense, especially given that Atletico would doubtless demand a similar fee for Agüero.
They Think It’s All Over… verdict: No go.

Antonio Valencia (Wigan Athletic)
Ferguson has long been linked with the Wigan man, and it has been widely rumoured that he could be a direct replacement for Ronaldo if the Portuguese did leave. It seems that’s a done deal and with Steve Bruce, the man who brought him to England, no longer at Wigan, I think Valencia will be on the move to a bigger club this summer. He’s very highly rated, and would have no shortage of offers but I think United would certainly be his preferred destination.

However, though my knowledge of him is limited – I’ve seen him play only a couple of times – I’m not so sure if he’s really good enough to play for United. He’s certainly impressed at Wigan and had some pundits busting out their dictionaries, but I wonder if he would be able to step up to play in the Champions League, or cut it in the really big games. I’m sure Ferguson will have a better idea than me, and would doubtless help him improve, but I don’t think he has the raw talent required to turn him into a world beater.
They Think It’s All Over… verdict: 50/50.

***

So there we have it, those are my opinions regarding the use to which Ferguson may put his £80m, what do you think? Agree or disagree with my predictions or think I’ve missed someone from the list? Leave a comment and have your say…

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4 Responses to Replacing Ronaldo: Who will United turn to?

  1. wllmhll says:

    im hoping for antonio valencia, hes a hard working winger.

    in terms of flair and maybe, adding quality to the team, i would say karim benzema. he has the hallmarks of a great finisher, methinks.

  2. rizal says:

    i think fergie will tie up benzema too. a bid around 34-40million. most probably united won’t find any winger players as they already had nani and new signing tosic who will be given plenty of chances this time. it’s a bit gamble but united love nurturing young stars. i think they might go for a goalie and maybe another central defender, probably a senior one who have vast experiences and comes in a less vulgar price.

  3. A. Howard says:

    Some interesting points there rizal.

    I agree with you that they have some young talent to come through on the wings, though if I was a United fan I would be a touch worried – Nani has so far shown very little when he’s been given a chance and Tosic, though highly rated, has no experience at Premier League level at all. Given that Park is not exactly top draw and that Giggs no longer has the legs to play out wide and there’s no proven quality there.

    As for signing a ‘keeper I agree that Van Der Saar should be hanging up his gloves soon but if Ferguson buys a new ‘keeper he needs locking up – because Ben Foster, England’s most promising ‘keeper, has been rotting away on the bench for long enough and needs to be given a chance to prove himself.

    Your suggestion that he needs a new, experienced central defender is also at odds with your argument that he loves to nurture the youngsters, and given Evans’ assured performances last season I see him as far more likely to step upto the first team plate than Nani or Tosic.

    It will certainly be interesting to see who he brings in though. Thanks for your comment, much appreciated.

  4. rizal says:

    thanks.

    judging by last season, performances of ferdinand and vidic was admirable but they slipped off sometime especially in big matches, with ferdinand showing long term injury crises. i hope man utd strenghten its defence area by adding another senior defensive player. yes, evan is showing a promising talent, but to me evan need someone like ferdinand to back up him playing in defensive area.

    what i concern really is the position of berbatov playing. i had a feeling that he was not being fully utilised last season. to me though he acted as a central striker, but his positioning in games sometimes didn’t tally. he played better while in spurs.

    hopefully ronaldo find success in madrid, though i doubt he will.

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