Football News

‘He is a giant’ — Ten Hag insists he is “looking forward” to working with Cristiano Ronaldo

By Ben Green

Published: 18:18, 16 May 2022

Manchester United-bound Erik Ten Hag has placated fear that Cristiano Ronaldo may not be in his short-term vision for the club by insisting he is “looking forward” to working with the Portuguese superstar.

Question marks about Ten Hag’s Man Utd transfer strategy have dominated the narrative since he signed the dotted line. A number of first-teamers look set to leave this summer when their respective contracts expire, not least Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, while there remain concerns over several fringe players.

Then, of course, there is the elephant in the room, the question of Ronaldo and whether, at 37, he is still capable of flourishing in a system designed to press and close down at frantic levels of high-octane energy — similar questions that have surfaced this season under Ralf Rangnick, despite his supreme goals return.

The Portuguese phenom is enjoying another prolific spell in front of goal, netting 24 goals in all competitions since returning to Old Trafford, and currently sitting third behind only Mohamed Salah (22) and Son Heung-Min (21) in the Premier League’s Golden Boot race this season (18).

He will turn 38 next season, and before Ten Hag has even experienced his first press conference at Carrington, the incoming Dutchman has been quick to play down concerns that Ronaldo won’t be at the forefront of his preparations for the 2022/23 campaign.

“I look forward to working with him,” Ten Hag told De Telegraaf.

“Ronaldo is a giant. Because of what he’s already shown and I think he’s still very ambitious. Of course I’d like to keep him.

“He has been very important for Man Utd this year [and he] can produce great statistics.”

In a recent interview Ronaldo also quelled fears that he may be off this summer, saying he is excited by the prospect of Ten Hag joining the club and working alongside him.

“What I know about him is he did a fantastic job for Ajax, that he’s an experienced coach, but we need to give him time,” Ronaldo explained to Man Utd’s official website.

“Things need to change the way he wants.

“I hope we have success, of course, because, if you have success, all of Manchester is going to have success as well. I wish him the best.

“We are happy and excited, not only as players, but the supporters as well.

“I wish him the best and let’s believe that, next year, we are going to win trophies.”