Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with Piers Morgan may have taken the footballing world by surprise but in many ways it was to be expected.
Ronaldo had already warned that he would speak ‘his truth’ after the debacle vs Brentford in August. As the weeks and months passed by it seemed as though he had forgotten about it but in actuality, it would appear that he has been plotting.
By releasing the news about the interview just hours after the victory over Fulham, it did somewhat take the gloss off the three points. However, in the grand scheme of things, with six weeks of non-competitive football ahead for Manchester United it should not de-rail the season in the same way it could have done if it was broadcast during the regular campaign.
The 37-year-old now heads to Qatar insisting that he is fully focused on Portugal but he would be lying if he said that not even half an eye was taking a look at the reaction back in England. By all accounts, this situation with Ronaldo is only likely to end one way and that is with the forward leaving the club.
He is not currently receiving the playing time he feels he deserves and as such you can imagine Erik ten Hag will be more than happy to see him exit the club. Should Ronaldo depart in January, as is to be expected, there are two players who are in a prime position to benefit in the short term.
Firstly there is Alejandro Garnacho. The teenager’s ability has been no secret for a while now but since Ten Hag arrived at Old Trafford he appears to have moved from strength-to-strength.
On Sunday, Garnacho was entrusted with a 20-minute cameo in order to attempt to win the game for his side. His coolly taken finish in stoppage time at Craven Cottage was just reward for what has been a great few weeks for the youngster.
Without Ronaldo at United there would be one less name in front of the forward at the club and his stock will rise. He should receive even more game time in the absence of the 37-year-old and regular minutes will only aid his development.
The second player likely to benefit from a Ronaldo departure is Anthony Martial. Since Ten Hag’s arrival, Martial has become almost a different player entirely.
His goals and assists for the Reds have been crucial but there are still some concerns regarding the Frenchman. Martial’s injury record this season has been a worry and should he wish to benefit from Ronaldo’s exit he needs to stay out of the medical room.
Should he manage that, the role as centre-forward at United will almost certainly be his. Martial’s form, as mentioned, has been significantly improved under the Dutch coach and at present his only real rival for the number nine spot is Ronaldo.
Both Garnacho and Martial will surely improve further with the extra responsibility which would be placed on them in the absence of Ronaldo, we know this through how they have excelled during his absence. In truth, it would now seem that a January transfer for the Portuguese great could be best for all parties involved.