Man United getting rid of £250k-p/w “genius” was a bigger mistake than Ronaldo’s exit

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Manchester United currently have to decide between injury-prone Anthony Martial and ineffective Wout Weghorst to lead the line as the Red Devils prepare to sign a long-term center-forward in the summer transfer window.

The former, who has once again shown to be somewhat unreliable, has only made 17 appearances across all competitions this season, while the latter, who joined on loan from Burnley in January, has scored just twice, with the towering Dutchman seemingly “not good enough,” in the words of Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.

The club’s decision to sever ties with Cristiano Ronaldo in November following the Portuguese international’s heated chat with journalist Piers Morgan may have been regretted by some United supporters as a result of the striker’s struggles.

While there is unquestionable logic in wanting to keep a player who has scored more than 700 goals for clubs, it could be argued that the Red Devils made a worse mistake a few months earlier when they allowed fellow veteran Edinson Cavani to depart the team on a free transfer.

Man United: Should Cavani have remained?

Individually, Ronaldo had a spectacular season in 2021–2022, netting 24 goals across all competitions. However, his antics and on-field troubles at the beginning of this season probably rendered his position at the club untenable.

The legendary footballer struggled to fit into the Erik ten Hag system and only managed three goals overall before being let go. He also had issues after leaving the game against Tottenham Hotspur early in October.

For the sake of harmony in the team, the club had no choice but to let the striker go after the aforementioned interview proved to be the final straw. Former United captain Gary Neville recently suggested that even Weghorst has contributed more “profit” to the team than Ronaldo.

While the decision to let the latter guy leave seems to be the right one, the same may not be true of Cavani’s departure because the Uruguayan international, who has scored seven goals for Valencia this season, is likely to still have had an impression on Ten Hag.

The 36-year-old, who managed just two goals at the Theatre of Dreams last season, was clearly underperforming. However, he admits that if he had known that Ronaldo would be returning, he would not have agreed to a new contract with the team.

After excelling in his first season in England, it would be natural if the former Napoli star was upset by the signing of his fellow attacker, who also claimed Cavani’s number seven jersey.

In 39 games across all competitions during that 2020–21 season, the seasoned ace scored 17 goals and provided six assists, earning praise from commentator Sam Homewood for his “genius” status after hitting a lovely long-range chip against Fulham late in the year.

But Cavani was praised for more than just his goal-scoring abilities. According to Luke Shaw and Neville, he adds “experience to the team and the younger players” and has “positive influences” on players like Marcus Rashford.

The same can’t be true, it seems, of Ronaldo, who, in a conversation with Morgan, criticized the team’s younger stars for not following his example. Neville also praised Cavani for his remarkable “work ethic.”

The current Valencia player, who earned about £250,000 per week in Manchester, did frustrate at times because of his inability to stay healthy throughout a season, but he was probably a more useful tool than Ronaldo for Ten Hag to have at his disposal.

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    Steve Bentley

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