Manchester United may be currently finalising a deal for Ajax winger, Antony, although the main topic of discussion at Old Trafford at present remains that of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Portuguese superstar still facing an uncertain future at the club as deadline day looms.
A year on from the Red Devils’ mad late scramble to secure the return of the veteran gem from under the noses of rivals Manchester City, the 37-year-old looks destined to secure a swift departure from the Premier League, despite a reported lack of suitors.
Having arrived to huge fanfare 12 months ago, the former Real Madrid icon went on to enjoy a largely positive campaign on a personal note last time out, having scored 24 goals in all competitions, although was unable to prevent the drastic downturn in performances at the Theatre of Dreams.
The club’s inability to qualify for the Champions League under interim boss Ralf Rangnick has seemingly been a notable bone of contention for the £515k-per-week sensation, with the forward having been angling for a move over the last few months.
While his desire to continue his personal pursuit of glory and footballing immortality is somewhat commendable, it is hard to defend the destabilising impact that his actions have caused this summer, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner also unable to stay out of the spotlight for a moment.
Just when new boss Erik ten Hag was hoping for a smooth start to life in the hot seat, the 189-cap ace’s decision to notify United of his intention to leave on the eve of pre-season sparked an instant issue for the Dutchman, with the player’s single-minded approach seemingly at odds with the collective unity of the wider squad.
The manner in which the legendary figure has conducted himself this summer has been somewhat perplexing, after failing to publicly vocalise either a desire to stay or depart – causing even greater uncertainty for the former Ajax coach.
Recent reports have suggested that despite the owner’s reluctance, Ten Hag has been keen to move on the striker for weeks, with it somewhat telling that the Portugal international has been absent from the starting lineup in each of the last two games – both of which ended in victory.
Following the win over Liverpool, in particular, one source suggested that Ronaldo – as well as captain Harry Maguire – could well be “part of the problem” at the club, with the Red Devils performing far better in his absence.
Should United ditch Ronaldo?
Should United look to sanction a departure, however, a replacement will no doubt be needed, hence the intrigue at the suggestion that Napoli striker Victor Osimhen could be used in a swap deal that would see the one-time Juventus man heading in the other direction.
Bringing in the 23-year-old would provide Ten Hag with a younger and potentially more athletic attacking presence who could suit his high press approach in attack, with Osimhen also importantly providing a real goalscoring threat.
The £94k-per-week “machine” – as dubbed by journalist Mina Rzouki – has scored 30 goals and provided ten assists in just 65 games for the Serie A outfit, after previously providing 24 goal contributions in 38 games at former club Lille.
An “electric” attacking threat, in the words of journalist David Amoyal, the Nigeria international has also started the new campaign in fine fashion with two goals in just three games, with United set to acquire a player who is bang in form at present.
With Ronaldo having seemingly only been a short-term fix, Osimhen could well be a more suitable long-term replacement who is potentially more likely to buy into the manager’s philosophy.
For all the emotional connection to the former Sporting CP man at Old Trafford, it is hard to ignore the fact that he is becoming something of an unwanted headache for the club, with severing ties before the September deadline potentially the best solution for all parties.
The distraction that is the Ronaldo show is only set to drag on if an exit cannot be secured, with Ten Hag unable to afford to have such a problematic figure in his ranks moving forward, despite the golden touch in front of goal that he undoubtedly possesses.