It’s a hammer blow to the club and a throws a serious spanner in the works when it comes to knocking their first Premier League season under Erik ten Hag out the park.
The Portuguese icon’s 24 goals were more than double that of United’s second highest scorer and his absence – should his wish be granted – would surely leave a gaping hole in the Red Devils front-line.
So, how could they replace him? It’s no easy feat. Ronaldo’s one of the all time greats and the whole reason behind his desire to leave stems from the club’s failure to achieve Champions League football, something which will be equally as unattractive to the rest of Europe’s elite talent.
It’s all well and good putting in a £150 million bid for Harry Kane, but with Antonio Conte at the helm and Spurs back in the big-time for the first time since 2019, he’s going nowhere.
Similarly with Karim Benzema, he’s just done the double with Real Madrid and there’s no way he’s heading for Old Trafford in the club’s current state.
With that in mind then, who represent United’s realistic options in the transfer market?
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Now, before you jump on us, we are fully aware the brief specifies ‘realistic options’ and we appreciate this could be perceived as far fetched, but there’s method behind the madness here.
Whilst the prospect of missing out on Champions League football will hardly be an appealing one for someone of Lewandowski’s calibre, he is absolutely desperate to jump ship at Bayern.
A move to United would give him the opportunity to showcase his skills in the Premier League and that’s got to count for something.
Besides, with Barcelona struggling financially and Bayern currently favourite with the bookies to land Ronaldo, a like-for-like swap deal could be an interesting option for both parties.
This deadly Argentine would be an exceptional acquisition on United’s behalf.
Martinez has been in top form for Inter Milan over the past couple of seasons and was a key ingredient in helping the club lift the Serie A title two seasons ago.
Last campaign the Nerazzurri just missed out in the bid to retain their crown, however Martinez could hardly have done any more, scoring 21 goals in the league alone.
With Inter having recently brought Romelu Lukaku back into the fold, maybe there’s some room for United to take Martinez off their hands.
The Czech international became a star at Euro 2020 after scoring a wonderful goal from his own half against Scotland.
He then kicked on from there and scored five goals across the tournament, ironically sharing the Golden Boot award with the man in question, Ronaldo.
At club level, he’s been tearing up German opposition on the regular, and scored an impressive 24 goals in 27 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen in 2021/2022.
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Not technically a bona fide number nine per se, but Nkunku has been playing as a second striker for RB Leipzig and performing in the role to lethal effect.
His stats tell all of the devasting damage he’s inflicted on teams across the last 12 months – 55 goal involvements is near Ballon d’Or winning form, and whilst he’d cost a pretty penny, he could be worth every bit and more.
He’s a player that isn’t often talked about much given the sheer amount of goals he scores, however Immobile could certainly bring something to United.
Now, that’s not to say there wouldn’t be potential hazards, he’s 32-years-old and hardly your versatile pressing striker like many believe Ten Hag is after, but let’s not forget he used Sebsatien Haller at Ajax to good effect who’s of a similar ilk.
The Italian’s goal record speaks for itself – 27 league goals last campaign, 20 the year before that, a staggering 36 in 2019/2020…
Come on, don’t say you’re not at least partly convinced.
One alternative from the Serie A would be this young star. Leao has been pretty magnificent both on the left wing and as a centre forward for AC Milan, especially last season where he played an enormous role in helping them claim their first Scudetto in over a decade.
For that reason, though, he won’t come cheap and you’d image the Glazers would be required to fork out around nine figures given the Portuguese is still just 23-years-old.
As a matter of fact, we’ll be sticking with Italy for the final two selections on this list also.
The first of those is Osimhen of Napoli and Nigeria. Much like Leao, Osimhen is known for his searing pace and love for running in behind defensive lines.
However, whilst Leao might be considered more Marcus Rashford-esque, Osimhen is more your Ian Wright – goals are his currency and that’s pretty much what he’ll guarantee.
Maybe the Chelsea academy graduate could return to England after all? Abraham put up some impressive numbers last campaign that got him plenty of recognition across the UK, however is he really in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans?
Maybe so, but it almost certainly won’t be in a key role. United have a vacancy in the forward department that needs filling and if Abraham could do the business there early in the season, the added exposure would do his international hopes no harm at all.