Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag could lose his own Ruud van Nistelrooy this summer

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag could lose his own Ruud van Nistelrooy this summer

Manchester United, in Cristiano Ronaldo, have a superstar on their hands. But the brutal fact of the matter is that, for all of his immense quality

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Manchester United, in Cristiano Ronaldo, have a superstar on their hands. But the brutal fact of the matter is that, for all of his immense quality and goalscoring quality, he could be the club’s modern-day Ruud van Nistelrooy this summer. A player preventing the young guns from stepping up – and a forward who may now leave the Red Devils behind this summer.

Manchester United re-signed Ronaldo last summer, at a time where the veteran had looked set to join Manchester City.

And the forward didn’t disappoint upon returning, scoring twice on his debut against Newcastle and ending the campaign with 24 goals to his name across all competitions.

Ronaldo’s return, however, coincided with United enduring their worst-ever Premier League campaign.

They finished sixth in the table with just 58 points to their name, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick toiling in the dugout.

And while Ronaldo is undoubtedly still world-class as he approaches the twilight years of his career, he could actually be another Van Nistelrooy.

The similarities between the pair, certainly, are there.

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And so the brutal decision was made, with Ferguson deciding to offload him to Real Madrid.

It was a gamble, especially given United had failed to win the league title for three years at the time of his exit.

Ferguson would later elaborate on his decision, insisting Van Nistelrooy’s selfishness cost him his Old Trafford career.

“The difficulty with footballers today is the satisfaction you have to give them in terms of picking the team,” he said.

“So, every time you pick a team there are two or three players you’re hesitant about telling they are not playing.

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“Maybe they are big players or have been a big player for you in the past. Or maybe you have a special relationship with them.

“You hope they will agree with reasons for leaving them out but sometimes a player doesn’t and I can understand that.

“It’s how they react and adapt to being left out that counts.

“Ruud was different in that way and so that’s what happened.”

It may be early into the Ten Hag era, but there are already signs United may end up benefiting from any Ronaldo departure.

Anthony Martial has been back among the goals, netting twice in as many games during pre-season against Liverpool and Melbourne Victory.

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Jadon Sancho appears to have rediscovered his swagger, too, having endured an underwhelming first year back in Manchester.

And there are indications Marcus Rashford will improve, too, after regressing alarmingly under Solskjaer and Rangnick.

Ten Hag, publicly, has said he wants to keep Ronaldo – who is eager to leave for a team playing in the Champions League next term.

But Solskjaer regrets bringing the 37-year-old back and Rangnick, on more than one occasion, advocated his sale during his turbulent reign.

Therefore, Ronaldo could be another Van Nistelrooy. A player who needs to go, so the next generation can take centre stage.

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