Erik ten Hag has reached a decision over reported Manchester United plans to sign a new striker in the January window and amid ongoing uncertainty over Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar has been used sparingly this season, following strong reports of summer discontment. Indeed, with United only able to offer him Europa League football and amid doubts over the direction the club was heading in, Ronaldo sought an escape. As a result, his agent, Jorge Mendes, was tasked with finding Ronaldo a new home.
However, amid a plethora of speculation, a number of potential suitors were all quick to distance themselves from his signature. To that end, Bayern Munich, Sporting Lisbon, Atletico Madrid and Napoli were among those to rule out a transfer.
Chelsea were also reportedly in the mix for his signing and their failure to land him was ultimately cited as a factor in Thomas Tuchel’s sacking.
Ultimately, deadline day came and went without Ronaldo securing that move away, leaving Ten Hag and United with a bit of an issue.
In light of that speculation, Ten Hag has since sent the player a message by using him sparingly so far.
To that end, the 37-year-old has just one Premier League start to his name all season. However, he came off the bench on Sunday to score the winner at Everton. The strike saw Ronaldo reach a landmark 700th club career goal in the process.
With the January window fast approaching, speculation is beginning to swirl again that Ronaldo may be tempted away.
Cristiano Ronaldo decision forces Ten Hag’s transfer hand
But there now appears a growing acceptance between all parties that a January move will not happen. As such, Ronaldo will now reportedly stay loyal to the club until at least next summer.
By then, Ronaldo will have a chance to reassess where his future lies. A successful return to the Champions League ahead of next season may even result in a complete change of heart.
Indeed, he will now hope to get a sustained run in the United side going forwards. While Anthony Martial’s back injury is not thought to be serious, the efficiency Ronaldo showed in front of goal has served as a reminder to Ten Hag of his abilities.
Furthermore, the United manager hinted of a potential U-turn over both his future and his prospects of a regular run in the side.
Speaking after the win at Goodison, Ten Hag indicated there is ‘more to come’ from Ronaldo at United.
“That is really impressive. To score 700 goals is a huge performance. I’m really happy for him,” Ten Hag said.
“I congratulate him on that performance and I’m also happy as it’s his first goal this season in the Premier League. He had to wait for it and I’m sure there will be more goals.”
United come to January striker signing decision
With a thawing seemingly breaking out between Ten Hag and Cristiano Ronaldo, it reduces the prospects of United turning to the January market for a new striker.
The Red Devils are reportedly keeping a close eye on several big names ahead of the winter window. To that end, one name regularly linked with United is Victor Osimhen, while Benfica’s Gonzalo Ramos and Ivan Toney of Brentford are also under consideration.
That said, the Manchester Evening News now reports United have decided not to sign a new striker in January. And while funds are available for Ten Hag, the bulk of their cash will be withheld until the summer.
As a result, United will likely review the situation again then before deciding on which striker to focus on.
That is certainly the direction director of football John Murtough suggested about United when questioned last month.
“We will continue to support Erik in ensuring he has players with the right quality and characters to achieve success, while ensuring that investment remains consistent with our commitment to financial sustainability,” he said.
“Overall, we are ahead of schedule in our recruitment plans as envisaged at the start of the summer. And we do not anticipate the same level of activity in future windows. As always, our planning focuses on the summer window.”
However, United may well be active in January with other positions likely to come into focus.