Man United: Forget Ronaldo, It's Strootman & Hummels We REALLY Need
Robbie Dunne wrote about why Ronaldo should head back to United so we asked the equally ace Tom Doyle to write a case to the contrary and say who the money would be better spent on...
The Old Trafford crowd told us everything we needed to know on Sunday afternoon - 4-0 up with British record signing Angel Di Maria tearing QPR apart just like Ryan Giggs used to, yet the cries of 'Viva Ronaldo' still rang out loud and clear.
With rumours gathering pace of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the Theatre of Dreams, there is no doubt the Portugal captain would be the statement signing of the decade - but is the be-gelled Real Madrid maestro really the player Louis van Gaal needs to restore Manchester United’s swagger?
The ballsy Dutch coach has a midfield diamond ready to sparkle and a front line stocked with Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and young upstart James Wilson – so far, so good.
But United’s side on Sunday resembled a bodybuilder who skips legs sessions for a lie-in – he thinks everybody’s looking the gun show, but it’s the chicken legs that get the laughs.
With the defence a queasy mix of the young, the injury-prone and the young & injury prone (I’m casting daggers at you, Phil Jones), the fee and wages it would take to tease the 29-year-old Ronaldo back to his beloved Manchester would surely be better spent elsewhere.
The ease with which Armand Traore skipped through time and again on Sunday highlighted the need for a defensive destroyer, and Van Gaal has a long-term crush on Kevin Strootman after coaching him for the Netherlands.
The 24-year-old Roma midfielder is still out until November with a serious knee injury, but a bid of £25-£30 million should be enough to prise the player from the Giallorossi next summer and give United fans that box-to-box presence they have craved since Roy Keane’s shin-kicking days of glory.
The next target for United is reported to be Mats Hummels. The 25-year-old has it all – he’s won the World Cup, captains Borussia Dortmund, and is annoyingly good-looking – but crucially, has not ruled out a future move to Old Trafford.
With United losing the collective experience of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra this summer, the centre-back would be an ideal addition to a back line that looks simply for show this season. Every great team has a defensive leader, and the BVB beauty is one of the only realistic targets left given Mehdi Benatia’s move to Bayern Munich.
Nobody in their right minds would turn down a ready-and-willing Ronaldo in their starting XI, but with a British record £153 million spent this summer, United have clearly gone off the reservation.
If they manage to secure Ronaldo along with beefier defensive recruits, then all well and good – but if the club has genuine aspirations of title fights and a Champions League return in the future, they need structure and solidity first and foremost.
Though Ed Woodward may see Ronaldo as the perfect signing to secure welcome into the sweaty bosom of the United faithful, he’s already signed the cherries – now he needs to go out and get the actual cake.