Manchester United have “bigger problems” than Cristiano Ronaldo, and there is “no logic” in selling the superstar forward, says Red Devils legend Roy Keane.
As United completed their final home match of the season with a 3-0 win over Brentford, Ronaldo was the man of the match.
The Portugal great scored a second-half penalty at Old Trafford to take his Premier League account for the campaign to 18 – a tally bettered by only Mohamed Salah (23) and Son Heung-min (19).
Despite his excellent return in front of goal since rejoining the club from Juventus, many doubted whether Ronaldo could fit the high-pressing style preferred by interim boss Ralf Rangnick and if he would suit the methods of incoming boss Erik ten Hag.
Throw in the fact Ronaldo is now 37. As a result, there is a school of thought among some pundits that United should look to move on their star man and bring in younger forwards.
Former United captain Keane does not subscribe to such a notion, suggesting instead the club needs to invest in other strikers to compliment him.
Speaking on Monday Night Football for Sky Sports, Roy Keane said:
“It [Ronaldo’s signing] was a short-term fix for the fans and share price. But he has still scored the goals.
“Manchester United have more significant problems than Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I think his performance warrants staying at the club with the goals that he has got.
“But Manchester United have to get players around him. They have to get other strikers in. There has to be competition for places.
“If the leading goalscorer, the man you depend on, is 37 years of age, that is certainly not good, but I would certainly be holding onto Ronaldo.
“There might be a conversation that needs to be had about the way you are going to play or that you will not be playing week in and week out. But why would you get rid of a player who scores that many goals? I don’t see the logic in it.”
However, Keane did accept Ronaldo must be more “mature” when acknowledging his advancing years means he will not always be a regular starter.
Roy Keane added:
“I think a top manager will come in and have that conversation with him and cut that rubbish out, like at Brentford when he is shaking his head 15 minutes after cominng off. Ronaldo has to be more mature and be a better leader,”
“Of course, it is disappointing when you come off but don’t keep it up for one or two days. That is where you have to sort that maturity out.
“Even Ronaldo has to look at the bigger picture.
“And when you have that conversation as a top manager, make it plain to him.
“If he is not buying into that, you say, ‘No, you’re not going to be part of my plans’.
“If he thinks he has to play every minute of every game, that is rubbish at his age anyway.”
Ronaldo’s team-mate Marcus Rashford is another whose long-term future at Old Trafford is doubtless.
England forward has just four Premier League goals this term and has never registered fewer than five in a campaign.
Roy Keane said:
“Whether it’s short on confidence, we’ve seen his quality before, but we’ve not seen it for a year or two.
“I think he’s taken his eye off the ball, whatever [it is] with his off-the-field stuff. Rashford has been around for a few years now. He’s got that experience and played international football.
“But it doesn’t look like he’s mature enough. We’ve seen a few games recently. When he played at Liverpool through the middle, I said he was playing like a child.
“It’s as if he’s not learnt about the game. He’s drifting. He’s not hungry. These young players get a lot of money and good luck, but I think he’s lost the eye of the tiger, and he’s struggling to get it back.
“Wherever Man United want to go, Marcus is being left behind. He’s left out again tonight, and he must be sitting on the bench going, ‘where has it all gone wrong for me?’. He can get it back, he’s shown it before, but sometimes it is hard to get it back when you do lose it.
“He’s got to get the hunger back into his game and make the runs like we’ve seen tonight from Elanga. Rashford has lost that bit of hunger, which is huge for a player. He is a talent, but we’re not seeing it.”
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