Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has told us that even if Cristiano Ronaldo is “begging to go”, the Red Devils can’t let him leave given the forward “guarantees goals every single season” and the club have no ready-made replacement. 

Ronaldo has been linked with an exit from Old Trafford all summer, but Ferdinand, speaking on William Hill’s new Premier League season preview panel, said moving the Portugal international on would be a bad move by United.

“People are saying you’ve got to let Ronaldo go… Well, get someone in who can score 24-25 goals first,” Ferdinand told us. “Darwin Nunez has gone, Erling Haaland has gone and Robert Lewandowski has gone. They were the three players that you were thinking, ‘look these are the only ones that you were going to go for that will outright come into the Manchester United team immediately’. But they’re gone. So Manchester United can’t let Ronaldo go, they can’t. Even if he’s begging to go, they just can’t let him go. It’s not the right thing to do, I don’t think.

“You’re gambling on Anthony Martial, who’s never been consistent enough for Manchester United; who they would have let go for peanuts last season if they could have if there were any takers. He went to Sevilla and didn’t do it. Marcus Rashford hasn’t played properly for probably 18 months, maybe longer. Jadon Sancho last season didn’t hit the heights that United expected, Anthony Elanga’s a young kid…

“So, you’re looking at it and thinking, ‘who can we hang our hat on and say yes, he’s going to drag the others up?’ Bruno Fernandes maybe, but he’s not a striker. It’s very easy for everybody to say, ‘you’ve got to get rid of Ronaldo, it’s a circus around him, he’s bringing too much attention…’ He might be bringing a little bit more attention than the club wants, but the geezer guarantees goals every single season.”

Fellow ex-United man Robbie Savage was speaking on the panel alongside Ferdinand and also said it would be a mistake by the Red Devils to let Ronaldo move on.

“I’ve heard it all about Ronaldo but the big thing is, why would you let Ronaldo go?” he said. “How are you going to replace those goals in your team? People have hammered Cristiano about what he is taking away from other members of the team, but he scores goals. If you let him go, how do you replace him? Who is out there now that’s going to get 24-25 goals a season for Manchester United?”

Despite the issues surrounding Ronaldo, Ferdinand still believes United can finish inside the top four under Erik ten Hag this season, predicting: “The top four will be Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United, in that order.”

Ferdinand also touched on what Gareth Southgate’s England Men’s side can learn from the England Women’s side following their recent Euro 2022 success.

“How to win,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Gareth Southgate and his team will be having some sort of Q&A or a talk with the manager of the England Women’s team or with some of the staff of the England Women’s team to find out how they created that culture, the winning mentality, how they got over the line, what were the levers and the key drivers during that timeframe that the squad were together. Just getting those little nuggets that can hopefully help the England Men’s team in future tournaments.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the women’s team or not. Gareth Southgate would have had people come in. The British and Irish Lions have it, the England rugby team have it – where people come in from different businesses or different sports who have been successful to take notes and to get an understanding of their success. The England Women’s team will be a part of that process now, I’m sure.”

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