Paul Merson

Manchester United are a better team without Cristiano Ronaldo, according to former Arsenal player Paul Merson.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford amid great fuss at the close of the summer transfer window, signing from Juventus 12 years after his first spell ended.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored nine goals in 12 games in all competitions since then, but Man United has struggled so far this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team lost 2-0 to local rivals Man City on Saturday, their sixth defeat in their previous 12 games in all competitions, and Merson believes Ronaldo’s comeback has affected the 20-time champions.

“I personally think Man United are a better football team without Cristiano Ronaldo,” Merson told Sky Sports News.

“They had a good unbeaten run last year by playing a certain way – counter-attacking football. You don’t get that with Ronaldo. That’s gone now. They don’t have that pace anymore.

“What’s the point in having a 20-goal a season striker if you don’t win anything? It’s like Harry Kane at Spurs. Having a striker scoring that many goals doesn’t guarantee you a top-four spot.”

Manchester United are currently in sixth place in the Premier League, nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

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