Manchester United and Erik ten Hag have the perfect opportunity to run the rule over five potential replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo during the World Cup in Qatar
Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo’s relationship had soured significantly over the past few months, so it came as no real surprise when it was confirmed that the two had parted ways earlier this week.
United released a statement on Tuesday evening confirming that Ronaldo would leave the club with “immediate effect” – less than a week after his explosive, unsanctioned interview with Piers Morgan where he took aim at Erik ten Hag and the Glazer family.
Although Ronaldo had been reduced to a bit-part role under Ten Hag this season, the Dutchman will more than likely be hoping to replace the veteran striker once the transfer window reopens in January.
But who could United target to replace Ronaldo? Mirror Football runs the rule over five potential replacements who the club could be monitoring over the next few weeks at the World Cup…
Mirror Football exclusively revealed earlier this month that Mbappe is top of Manchester United’s wishlist to replace Ronaldo.
Mbappe caught the eye with a standout second-half performance as France got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a thumping 4-1 win, where the striker bagged a goal and an assist.
Mbappe only penned a three-year extension with Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, but the 23-year-old is already angling for a move away from the French capital.
United could provide a viable escape route for the Frenchman – but only if they are willing to pay a premium price.
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Gakpo was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in the summer, but United pulled the plug on a move for the free-scoring PSV Eindhoven ace in the final days of the transfer window.
Since that move collapsed, Gakpo has gone from strength to strength in the Eredivisie: he has already racked up a staggering 30 goal contributions across 24 games for the Dutch giants.
The 23-year-old forward netted the Netherlands’ opening goal in their 2-0 win over Senegal, but he is likely to have suitors in January regardless of how he performs in the World Cup – and there’s every chance United could rekindle their interest in Gakpo following Ronaldo’s departure.
When it comes to elite strikers at the World Cup, it’s hard to look beyond Kane – and he has been tentatively linked with a stunning move to Old Trafford in the past.
While it seems highly unlikely that Tottenham chief Daniel Levy – notorious for his tough negotiation stance – would entertain the idea of selling the club’s prized asset to such a prominent Premier League rival, capturing a player of Kane’s quality would certainly soften the blow of losing Ronaldo.
If Manchester United do opt to pursue Kane – just as their neighbours Manchester City did last year – then it is likely a deal that would have to be shelved until the summer.
Just months after Vlahovic snubbed a move to Arsenal, the Serbian hitman has emerged as a potential target for Manchester United.
Vlahovic sealed a big-money move to Juventus back in January but has endured a difficult maiden year in Turin. And with the Italian giants struggling both in Serie A and in Europe, there is speculation that the striker could be prised away from the Allianz Arena.
It was claimed earlier this month that United hold an interest in Vlahovic, who blitzed 41 goals in 64 games for Fiorentina prior to his big move.
The 22-year-old forward is still highly rated and his physical attributes would be a natural fit in the Premier League.
Capturing a player of Vlahovic’s calibre would represent a major coup for United, who will be able to see how he fares against the likes of Brazil and Switzerland in a tough World Cup group.
Martinez is another one of Europe’s most coveted forwards – and another name who has been extensively linked with a move to the Premier League.
The Argentina star has plundered 82 goals in 202 appearances for the Italian giants, who would be loathed to lose the 25-year-old. But given that Inter are still being plagued by financial issues, they could elect to cash in on Martinez if his stock rises during the tournament in Qatar.
Martinez has proven himself on the international stage, too. He has bagged 21 goals in 42 games for Argentina and would also represent a coup for Manchester United.
His energetic, all-action style would see him adapt seamlessly to Ten Hag’s philosophy, while his versatility would also appeal to the Old Trafford chief.