According to former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn, Cristiano Ronaldo will play a vital part at Man United next season as Erik Ten Hag tries to bring in younger players in this summer transfer window.
Following months of conjecture, Ten Hag started work at Manchester United on Monday, with the Dutchman hoping to get a head start on working out the “make-up of the staff and the composition of the squad.”
The signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, and Jadon Sancho were supposed to propel the team towards a Premier League title challenge this season, but the results have been dismal.
If West Ham defeat Brighton and Manchester United lose or draw against Crystal Palace on the last day of the Premier League season, United may finish seventh.
Winterburn believes it is “unsustainable” for Man United to spend £100 million on individual players, and that Ten Hag will instead turn to kids.
“No team can continue to squander £100 million on individual players, it’s untenable,” the former Arsenal defender told Paddy Power. “Manchester United will search for players to come through the youth system in the future, as well as younger players who can help the club move forward and handle the club’s atmosphere.
“If the rumors that Ten Hag wants to import the young players from Ajax are accurate, then it makes sense because he is familiar with them and their disposition.
“He’ll want to establish his style of play; he knows the type of players he wants to bring in to suit his style of play, so you can’t make a decision until the manager is in there and has made his signings.
“You believe you’ve discovered the perfect match for your club, but he ends up being a complete dud.” Sometimes you take a player you think could do a job and he suddenly comes alive and performs at a level we didn’t realize he was capable of.”
“Manchester United’s summer will be very fascinating in terms of the players they’ll let go and the players they’ll bring in, as well as how soon the manager implements a system that gets the fans back on board.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was rumored to be considering leaving Old Trafford if Manchester United failed to qualify for the Champions League, but Winterburn believes he will stay and assist the younger players to improve.
“Manchester United will not get Cristiano Ronaldo in for one season and then send him off so fast,” Winterburn continued.
“He still has a lot of importance for Manchester United, as evidenced by his goal-scoring record.” His age is only a number to him. He has a wealth of experience, and if United chooses to go the younger route, he might play a key role in establishing an example of how to prepare and play, as well as what it means to win and lose.
“He may assist the younger players around the training ground, and if he accepts that, he may be utilised in a different way and get less playing time.”
“It’s hardly surprising that he’s still around. If you have someone of his caliber, you must use them in the proper system. I believe he will have a part at United next season; he is a superstar.
“Sometimes we have to forget about the players’ age; it’s still about mindset and passion on the field, not age.”