John Barnes has told us that Manchester United will fail again next season if Cristiano Ronaldo stays at Old Trafford, as his presence detracts from the harmony at the club and stops his team-mates from shining.

United endured a miserable 2021/22 campaign, finishing sixth in the Premier League with a record low of 58 points, despite Ronaldo ending up as the club’s top scorer with 24 goals following his return to Old Trafford last summer.

Speaking to William Hill ambassador Robbie Savage on an end-of-season review panel after Savage had put forward Ronaldo as his standout player of the campaign, ex-England international Barnes said: “I don’t agree with that. I can tell you, if the harmony is better, while Ronaldo won’t be there scoring the goals, the team will be better, they will be winning matches.

“Ronaldo has detracted from Bruno Fernandes, from (Marcus) Rashford, because it’s all been about him. The fans love him and when things don’t go his way, he’s like ‘it’s not my fault.’ That is not what a team is all about. We know Ronaldo has done well for himself, but would you rather have no-one scoring 20 goals a season and United being higher up?

“I think they would be higher up, if they had a better team (harmony). Rashford has gone backwards, (Jadon) Sancho’s struggled… Ronaldo is there and he causes disunity and disharmony. A leader doesn’t throw his hands up in the air (when things go wrong), a leader says ‘come on lads, I’m on your team.’

“We’re talking about the harmony of the team, it’s not just Ronaldo’s fault but he detracts from the other players. £80 million for Sancho – he’s not playing, he’s not a main player. He should be the main player. Rashford should be the main player. Whoever signed Ronaldo, it’s their fault. Do you think if Ronaldo stays next year it’ll be better? Man United have been a failure because he’s been part of that. Now you have to move on from that. Do you think if Ronaldo stays next year they’ll do better? No chance.”

To Savage’s response that when Ronaldo hasn’t started a game for United, they have struggled to win, Barnes said: “But he’s been there. It doesn’t matter whether he starts or not, he’s at the club. He detracts from everybody else. (If he’s not there) everybody knows the fans won’t be talking about Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo. The fans will be talking about Sancho or Rashford (instead).”

Ex-Wales international Savage had said Ronaldo was his standout player of the season as without him in the United team they would have ended up finishing in midtable.

“Ronaldo (is my player of the season),” Savage said. “People might laugh at that but in a team that’s finished outside the Champions League places, if (Raphael) Varane, Sancho and other players had contributed as much as Ronaldo has done for Manchester United (this season), they would be in the Champions League places and possibly challenging for the title.

“What people don’t see about Ronaldo is he’s first in the gym and he’s last out. For my boy (Charlie Savage at Manchester United) he’s a great example – everything he’s won, probably the greatest or one of the greatest players to ever play the game. (United without Ronaldo) the points would suggest, without his goals, they would have finished midtable. They wouldn’t have qualified for the Champions League.”

Savage added: “United will finish higher next year if Ronaldo stays. When Ronaldo’s not started a game for Manchester United this year, they haven’t won one. Why is that?”

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