EPL

Ronaldo asks to leave Man Utd: Stats Perform writers weigh up the pros and cons

By Sports Desk July 02, 2022

It seems Cristiano Ronaldo's second stint at Manchester United might be cut short.

Ronaldo returned to United at the end of August 2021, but after a season back at Old Trafford, the 37-year-old apparently wants out.

According to multiple reports, Ronaldo has informed the club that he wishes to leave should an acceptable offer be received.

Ronaldo was United's top scorer last season, though it would be fair to say his comeback did not go entirely to plan, with the Red Devils finishing sixth and recording their worst Premier League points tally.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November and interim manager Ralf Rangnick hardly made a lasting impression.

Erik ten Hag has now been tasked with the rebuild, but would doing that without Ronaldo be a negative, or a positive? Two of Stats Perform's writers have had their say.

Ronaldo's want-away wish bad news for United - Patric Ridge

Sure, United's season might not have gone according to plan, but without Ronaldo, it could have been a lot worse. United ultimately scraped into the Europa League despite a dismal end to the campaign, and the fact that they have continental club football of any description to look forward to in the coming season is, in large part, down to the 18 league goals Ronaldo scored.

His record speaks for itself, and the task of replacing him is put into even more of a stark light when you compare Ronaldo's statistics to the rest of United's squad last term.

His 24 goals across all competitions is 14 clear of second-best Bruno Fernandes (10). Indeed, only Ronaldo (27), Fernandes (23) and Paul Pogba (10) hit double figures for direct goal contributions.

Can United really lose two of those players in one window and expect to be challenging for Champions League qualification next term, especially with Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea all looking to strengthen? Marcus Rashford looks like a player in need of a reset, and Anthony Martial is seemingly surplus to requirements.

Ronaldo scored a goal every 132 minutes last season, recording a shot conversion rate of 16.9 per cent. With Ronaldo in the team, United won 17 of 38 games (44.7 per cent). That win rate dropped drastically to 27.3 per cent (3/11) without him.

In this writer's opinion, Ronaldo leaving would leave Ten Hag with even more work to do, on top of what is already a hugely difficult task.

Ronaldo departure would provide opportunity for reset - Ryan Benson

Goals win football matches. Cristiano Ronaldo scores goals – we know this. But did he make United a better team in general? Few would claim he did.

Granted, some might suggest that is a harsh way to judge him given he played in – and scored 18 league goals for – arguably the worst United team (at least in terms of seasonal statistics) in over 30 years, but who's to say only he could have netted that amount for this side? Don't forget, they did finish second in the 2020-21 campaign.

Even before he returned to Old Trafford, there were plenty of critics warning fans United could potentially be worse off than before with Ronaldo because of how little he offers to the wider team.

Yes, he scores goals, but what's stopping United signing a replacement who does that but also works hard off the ball and adds dynamism to the attack? Maybe that's easier said than done, but those players do literally exist.

United are in a transitional stage, the middle of a rebuild. With that in mind, no one will be expecting them to mount anything close to a title challenge next season, Ronaldo or not.

Therefore, they might as well allow Ten Hag to bring a striker he deems to be tailor-made for the way he wants to play, rather than shoe-horn into the side a Ronaldo who offers precious little outside of the box.

Ronaldo is 37. United would've needed to replace him soon anyway, so at least this provides them with an earlier opportunity to sign, and start building around, someone much younger.

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