As soon as one question was answered at Old Trafford, a new one has come to the fore.
Ever since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired as Manchester United manager after their humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford in November it was a case of wondering who would be the next man in the hot seat.
Erik ten Hag has finally been confirmed as the Red Devils manager. He’ll take over on July 1, and hopefully after guiding Ajax to another Eredivisie title.
Now, the focus at United is largely turning to Cristiano Ronaldo. What is next for the Portugal star? Will he be part of Ten Hag’s plans or will his return to United be cut off after just one season? And if he leaves, were will he go?
How many goals has Ronaldo scored for Manchester United?
On the surface of things, 24 goals in a mediocre United side destined not to finish in the top four in the Premier League is good going.
Eighteen of them have come in the Premier League, with only Son Heung-min (19) and Mohamed Salah (22) having scored more this term. Those numbers were by recent hat-tricks against Tottenham and Norwich City, but Ronaldo is on a run of six goals in five league appearances — not bad for a 37-year-old at the end of a long season.
He scored four times in his first three games in all competitions for United, but then scored five in his next 12 — slim pickings for one of the greatest goalscorers the game has ever seen.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 26, 2022
Six goals came in the UEFA Champions League group stage, without which United would not have gone through to the knockouts, but he could not add to his impressive personal record against Atletico Madrid as Diego Simeone’s side triumphed 2-1 in the last-16 tie.
Ronaldo’s ability to lead the line at his age has come under scrutiny. United have been accused of being unable to press consistently from the front when Ronaldo plays, although in truth they have struggled with that side of their game regardless of their No.7.
However, despite Ronaldo’s impressive personal tally, United’s goal threat has declined with him in the side. They will have to score 16 goals on the final day against Crystal Palace to match last season’s tally of 73, and even if they win that game, they are destined to set their lowest points total for a single season in the Premier League era.
What is Ronaldo’s salary at Manchester United?
Upon Ronaldo’s arrival back at Manchester United in September, his return coming 12 years after he left for Real Madrid, it was reported that he would be earning wages of approximately £480,000 ($592,000) per week, making him the club’s highest earner.
However, it emerged later that he was earning closer to £385,000 ($475,000) per week. That was a reduction on what he had been getting at Juventus, although his salary is supplemented by numerous bonuses, not to mention sponsorship deals and commercial interests.
According to Forbes, Ronaldo’s net worth in 2021 was $120m (£97m).
30 hat-tricks before 30 and 30 hat-tricks after 30. It’s time to unbalance the scale! 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/McgGZBmzyh
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) April 17, 2022
How much did Ronaldo cost Manchester United?
On August 31, Juventus announced that Ronaldo would be joining United. The Premier League club agreed an initial fee of €15m (£12.8m/$15.8m), payable over five years, with a further €8m (£6.8m/$8.4m) to be paid if certain sporting objectives were met.
Ronaldo signed a two-year contract to run through until the end of the 2022-23 season, with the option for a further year.
He had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, but United entered the race for his signature when it became clear Juve were keen to sell to reduce their outgoings. There were conflicting reports about whether City withdrew their interest (or, indeed, had ever really tried to sign him at all), or if United only won the race thanks to the personal intervention of Alex Ferguson. Either way, it quickly became clear that Ronaldo would be playing in red, not blue, in Manchester.
Will Ronaldo leave Manchester United in 2022?
There has been a mixture of noise from the Ronaldo and United camps in recent weeks on exactly where he will be in August when the European season recommences.
Ronaldo has settled well off the pitch back into life in England and seems to be a popular member of the squad, despite the occasional display of visual frustration after the side has suffered a setback.
Prior to the announcement of Ten Hag’s appointment, stories reportedly coming from Ronaldo’s camp had indicated he was keen to remain at Old Trafford. Manu Sainz from AS in Spain reported that he wanted to do a second season, even without Champions League football on offer.
…let’s say Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t seem to play or act like a player who’s desperate to leave as soon as possible. Incredible mentality and approach, again. 🔴 #MUFC
He’s still the man for United in this complicated moment. Top performance. pic.twitter.com/b8GTS4jrcw
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 12, 2022
Yet that was before Ten Hag was confirmed as manager and it remains to be seen whether he will want to build his attack around a 37-year-old forward in a season that will be disrupted by the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which takes place in November and December. Ronaldo appeared to tell a Sky Sports camera “I’m not finished” after helping his side beat Brentford in their last home game of the season, but when a social media user pointed it out, there was a reply from the star’s official Instagram page that said: “I didn’t say that.”
United’s squad needs an overhaul. Ronaldo is still lethal in the air and a great finisher, but his work outside the box has not been consistent in a United side that, although not entirely lacking in quality, looks directionless and haphazardly assembled.
But then there is the issue that Edison Cavani is likely to leave when his contract expires, Anthony Martial is out of favour and having an underwhelming loan spell at Sevilla, and Marcus Rashford’s form has capitulated this season.
Add in the uncertainty over Mason Greenwood’s legal situation and would United really want to move Ronaldo on when there are so many other problems to solve?
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 23, 2022
Where can Ronaldo go if he leaves Manchester United?
On the money he is on at United right now, the options, at least in Europe, are slim.
In England, the most probable setting would be Newcastle United if the club’s owners, the Public Investment Fund, want to make a statement signing now that they moved on from being a relegation-threatened side to one already looking ahead to brighter days under Eddie Howe. Certainly, the Magpies’ wealthy backers could afford it; the only others with those resources are Manchester City and Chelsea, neither of whom are likely to make an offer.
Paris Saint-Germain are the big spenders outside England. The prospect of uniting Ronaldo and long-time rival Lionel Messi in the same team would be hugely appealing from a commercial point of view, but PSG’s focus at the moment is on convincing Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract. If he does, the club would be at risk of breaching financial regulations if they were to add Ronaldo to a wage bill that also includes Neymar, the world’s most expensive player.
The prospect of a Real Madrid return has been mentioned and, if Los Blancos fail to sign Mbappe, they would certainly be looking to bring in a forward. However, their transfer policy has shifted more towards recruiting younger talents and they, too, would have to free up funds from their wage bill before a deal for Ronaldo could be countenanced.
Finishing his club career in Portugal back at Sporting CP might appeal, but that would require Ronaldo taking a huge reduction in salary. Plus, his hopes of winning the Champions League again would be all but gone.
However, if he does decide on a change of pace, he could look beyond the continent. Garth Crooks, who spent a season on loan at United as a player, hypothesised in his BBC column in April that the chance to hook up with another former United great in the form of David Beckham might appeal to Ronaldo.
Beckham owns MLS side Inter Miami and acquiring one of the biggest names in world football would be a coup.
Crooks wrote on Ronaldo’s future: “He is still a young man who needs a purpose in life. The United States might be the place to establish that purpose. David Beckham and Ronaldo would make a formidable partnership in Miami.”