Sir Alex Ferguson has tipped Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned world player of the year in December - but revealed he could leave his star man out of Tuesday night's Champions League clash with Celtic.
After scoring 42 goals last season, Ronaldo has already found his shooting boots this term, rattling home his fourth of a season that did not start until mid-September in Manchester United's comfortable weekend win over West Brom.
"Cristiano will win both player of the year awards, I am sure of it," said Ferguson. "If he doesn't, I want to sign the guy who does."
Given United were crowned kings of England and Europe last May, Ronaldo is odds-on favourite to land the FIFA world prize and the prestigious Ballon D'Or, for which he headed the list of nominated players released over the weekend.
However, the Red Devils chief feels Ronaldo has not quite recovered from the ankle operation he had in the summer. And after a conversation with former assistant and current Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz, given the swift turnaround, Ferguson is tempted to let Nani loose on Celtic instead.
"But Carlos feels Cristiano is still finding it hard to recover from a Saturday game to a Wednesday," he added.
"I need to look at this game and the fact it is on a Tuesday and assess whether to bring in Nani."
Not that Ronaldo will meekly step aside to let Nani in, no matter how close his relationship with his fellow countryman.
Ferguson saw how the 23-year-old responded to Gary Neville's query about his wellbeing at Old Trafford on Saturday and knows he faces a delicate decision.
"I thought Cristiano was starting to show signs of tiring so I asked Gary to see how he was," said Ferguson. "Ronaldo said he was feeling it a bit and maybe it was time to come off. Five minutes later he told Gary he felt good. Maybe it was the thought he might be coming off."
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