Former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney believes Erik ten Hag should look to sell Cristiano Ronaldo this summer and focus his squad on more youthful options to build for the future.
Ronaldo, 37, has been in the headlines for much of this summer, with his well-documented desire to leave Old Trafford and play for a club currently competing in the Champions League providing Ten Hag an unwanted backdrop of discord in the early stages of his tenure.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner skipped the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to family reasons and only returned to Carrington (Man Utd’s training facilities) late last month, subsequently starting Sunday’s defeat to Brighton on the bench.
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Ten Hag got off to a miserable start in the Old Trafford dugout over the weekend as Brighton travelled to the North West and executed a confident 2-1 win, with Pascal Gross helping himself to a brace, which was enough to get the three points despite an Alexis Mac Allister own goal 20 minutes from time.
Writing in his column for The Times, Rooney has now emphasised the need to let Ronaldo leave the club if he wishes, and instead build a squad capable of competing for the Premier League title in a few years.
He wrote, “I think United should let Cristiano Ronaldo go. It’s not that Ronaldo can’t play in a [Erik] Ten Hag team. He can play in any team. Ronny will always score you goals.
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“But my personal view is that United aren’t ready to challenge for the title now, so the aim has to be to build a team that can win the league in the next three to four years, and you have to plan for that.
“If the reports are true that Cristiano wants to leave the club, then United should allow him to go and get a No.9 in who is going to be there for the next three or four years and really help them build a team that can be successful. Ten Hag has to be given time to do it.”