In an exclusive interview with De Telegraaf, manager Erik ten Hag has revealed his intention of keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United next term.
The Dutchman has assumed duties as the permanent head coach, but interim boss Ralf Rangnick will stay in charge for the final Premier League game of the season.
Meanwhile, plans are already underway for the summer and Ten Hag has now made it quite clear that Ronaldo will be a key player under him for the 2022/23 campaign.
Speaking to De Telegraaf, Ten Hag rubbished any speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s future by emphasising that he wants to keep the Portugal international at United.
He went on to describe him as ‘very important’ to the club while adding that he is a ‘giant’ for the desire and ambition shown over the course of his stunning playing career.
He said: “I want to keep Cristiano at Man United, of course. He has been very important for this club. Ronaldo is a giant, because of everything he has shown so far and because of how ambitious he is.”
There was much talk about Ronaldo’s future at the beginning of the year after he went through a rough period where he was struggling to find the back of the net for the Red Devils.
However, the £31.5 million-rated star has redeemed himself with match-winning hat-tricks versus Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City while also scoring against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
Under Rangnick, the 37-year-old has shown that he can adapt to the high pressing style of football. He has been willing to drop deep, making defensive contributions in the process.
Despite United’s average campaign, Ronaldo has stood out with 24 goals, 18 of those in the league. There have been many occasions where he has singlehandedly won games for the club.
Ten Hag’s prime focus for next season should be to get the best out of players around Ronaldo. If we look at the current season, Bruno Fernandes has been the second-best scorer with just 10.
Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford have bagged only five goals for the campaign, and there needs to be a drastic improvement from the duo if United are to return to the top four next term.
Ten Hag may still want to pursue a quality young striker as he needs to balance Ronaldo’s workload. United have been over-reliant on him and have lacked the quality up front when he has been on the sidelines.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com