As the dust settles on another fantastic edition of the World Cup, with the football finally left to do the talking in the Middle East, players are returning to their respective clubs as they prepare for the rapid return of domestic football.
One man who won’t be going back to his club, however, is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar gave a sensational interview to controversial journalist Piers Morgan just days before the start of the World Cup, the details of which are public knowledge by now, and he has had his Manchester United contract ripped up while in the Middle East.
That leaves a massive void in the Old Trafford dressing room, with big boots to fill for Erik ten Hag’s side as they look to secure a top-four spot in the Premier League table come the end of the season — something which the Red Devils wouldn’t have been favoured to achieve in the betting on football markets after their dreadful start to the campaign.
Ten Hag and the famous club’s hierarchy could start looking for a replacement for ‘CR7’ as soon as January, with the winter transfer window due to open on New Year’s Day. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at three of Man United’s potential targets.
Out with the old and in with the new is perhaps the perfect saying in this instance, as Goncalo Ramos showed the world what he is capable of when he replaced Ronaldo in Portugal’s starting XI for their crucial round of 16 tie against Switzerland.
The Benfica talisman became the youngest player to score a World Cup hattrick in 60 years at just 21 years of age, but there’s no doubt that a performance like that will have added an additional few million on to his price tag.
Ramos has been in red-hot form for the Portuguese outfit this season, scoring 14 times and assisting six in 21 appearances. He would be a welcome addition at the Theatre of Dreams.
Another player whose stock has risen drastically thanks to their performance at the World Cup, Manchester United could be left to rue their failure to land Cody Gakpo back in the summer — as his price tag will have sky-rocketed due his outstanding displays for the Netherlands.
In the absence of a fully fit Memphis Depay, Gakpo was the man tasked with scoring the crucial goals for the Dutch — and the 23-year-old delivered in spades, joining a select list of players to find the back of the net in all three of their country’s group games with strikes against Senegal, Qatar and Ecuador.
Gakpo also has the stats at club level to prove this isn’t a flash in the pan, scoring nine times and assisting 12 in 14 appearances for PSV in the Eredivisie.
Another Portuguese option for Ten Hag, Rafael Leao has been on the radar of the top Premier League clubs for a while now — and his performances in the Middle East will have only helped his chances of getting a move to England sooner rather than later.
The 23-year-old has had to make do with cameos from the bench at the World Cup, but he has scored two stunning goals to prove his worth. He’s been equally as impressive domestically for AC Milan, scoring seven and assisting nine in 20 appearances for the Italian giants.
Man United could face stiff competition for Leao’s signature, however, as Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the forward.