Former Arsenal and England midfielder Paul Merson does not believe that Cristiano Ronaldo will remain a Manchester United player next season, insisting he would be “shocked” if he stayed.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who netted a hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur, returned to the club in dramatic fashion from Juventus last summer. He put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the option of an additional year.
Although Ronaldo’s first season back at Old Trafford has failed to have the desired effect, with United nowhere close to competing for the Premier League title, he has cemented himself as their leading marksman. Following his treble on Saturday, he has now scored 18 times in all competitions this season.
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However, now at the age of 37, Ronaldo, although he has recently admitted that he believes he can play for another “four or five” years, is likely to begin to regress in the seasons that lie ahead. With that said, Merson does not believe United can continue with a player of his age leading their attacking line, despite admitting that he is the club’s “best player.”
Merson told Sky Sports : “Do I think he’ll still be there next season? No, absolutely not. I’d be shocked if he was still there.
“I don’t think the manager who’s coming in is going to be as soft. I don’t think it’s going to work with him. If you want to win the Premier League, that isn’t happening.
“I thought Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was weak, I think Ralf Rangnick is weak with the way it’s happened. Someone who’s coming in has got to be majorly strong.
“You’re not going to win the league with a 37-year-old up front in my opinion. The worrying thing for Man Utd is he’s their best player and top scorer.
“You can’t say he hasn’t been a success – he’s the top scorer at Man Utd, the biggest club in the world, and he’s 37. But you’ve got to put it in perspective – Man Utd are there to win trophies, not just make numbers up and try to get fourth.
“He’s probably done his job but him doing his job hasn’t helped anybody else. It might sound silly because he’s done well, but that means no one else has done well.”
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