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Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag repeated on Wednesday that he was counting on Cristiano Ronaldo this season “It’s clear, of course, we need quality players,” Ten Haag said when asked about his unsettled Portuguese star on the day before the summer transfer window closes.
“You need more and to cover all the games to keep the consistency going, that’s what we strive for,” he told a press conference. “From now on, we go in three games a week. “We will go from September to minimum January with this squad.”
Ronaldo has been pushing for a transfer since the end of last season when United failed to qualify for the Champions League.
The 37-year-old Portugal striker is the all-time top scorer in the competition, 15 ahead of Lionel Messi, but the Argentine is more than two years younger and will be playing in the Champions League this season with Paris Saint-Germain.
Ronaldo has found it impossible to attract offers from Europe’s top clubs, with the latest reports linking him with the likes of his former team Sporting Lisbon, as well as Napoli and Marseille. Ronaldo has only started one of United’s four league games this season, the humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford. Although United said on their website on Tuesday that they had reached a deal to buy Brazilian attacker Antony from Ajax, Ten Haag was coy about the player. “Firstly, I have to sign him! There’s an agreement between the clubs but the paperwork is not done so I cannot go too deep into that,” he said.
United are reportedly paying Ajax a fixed fee of £80.6 million (93.9m euros), with a further £4.2m in add-ons for the 22-year-old, who has yet to complete a medical. Ten Haag also confirmed that he expected Martin Dubravka to join from Newcastle. The goalkeeper has reportedly passed his medical.
Ten Haag said that fullback Aaron Wan-Bissaka would not be leaving. Even though Antony is signing and Ronaldo staying, Ten Haag still wanted more attackers.
“In the offensive department we needed to strengthen the squad. Offensive players fatigue quicker. They have to run more with high intensity.” he said. “We need numbers there. We need not just quantity but quality.” He suggested that United had finished their transfer business unless something unexpected came up. “For this window, it will be the end,” he said. “You always have to be alert at a top club. But we will go from September to minimum January with this squad.” United started the season with two losses, at home to Brighton and at Brentford, but have gained one-goal victories over Liverpool and at Southampton to climb into mid-table.
United visit Leicester on Wednesday evening and host current league leaders Arsenal on Sunday when Antony may possibly be available.