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‘Let him go’: Manchester United legend says time to move on from Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Manchester United against Rayo Vallecano.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United should sell Cristiano Ronaldo and focus on building a team capable of competing for major honours, amid speculation about the Portuguese star’s future.

Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave Old Trafford just one year on from his return to the club.

United can only offer him Europa League football in 2022/23 following last season’s sixth-place Premier League finish, and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to play in the Champions League.  

But the 37-year-old is still part of Erik ten Hag’s squad ahead of their season opener against Brighton on Sunday after struggling to find a new club.

Wayne Rooney

(Image credit: PA)

Rooney, who is United’s all-time top scorer and a former team-mate of Ronaldo, offered his opinion on the situation ahead of new manager Erik ten Hag’s competitive debut.  

"I think United should let Cristiano Ronaldo go. It's not that Ronaldo can't play in a Ten Hag team. He can play in any team. Ronny will always score you goals,” Rooney wrote in The Times. (opens in new tab)

"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."

Ten Hag has brought in three new players so far this summer to help his rebuilding job: Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata have all left.

More Manchester United stories

The end of the transfer window is set to be busy for Manchester United, with four more signings targeted. As many as six defenders could leave the club, too.

The Frenkie de Jong saga continues to tick over. Cristiano Ronaldo would reportedly be unhappy if De Jong commanded a higher wage than him, while Chelsea also have an interest in the Dutchman – and a plan to hijack his move. Sergino Dest – another Ajax star under Ten Hag who moved to Barcelona – is also an option, while potential Ronaldo replacement Benjamin Sesko has been linked

Benjamin Pavard has apparently been offered to United by Bayern Munich, while another Bundesliga star is also on the shortlist. Meanwhile, Dean Henderson has criticised his treatment at Old Trafford last season.

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.