Erik ten Hag will be privately delighted by Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer exit but who could Man Utd sign to replace him? | The Sun

IT feels like the start of a new season.  

The winter World Cup might not have pleased all fans, but there may have been one or two Premier League chairmen and managers who welcomed the break.  

The pause might have helped some teams that perhaps struggled before a World Cup ball was kicked. For them, the gap in the season may have acted as something of a circuit-breaker, and the opportunity to press the reset button.  

For others, the World Cup will have come at an unfortunate time. Take Arsenal for example, who were performing well, sitting top of the Premier League and gaining great momentum.  

Can they pick-up where they left off? To complicate matters, they’ve now lost star striker Gabriel Jesus, who is expected to be out for a number of months, after sustaining a knee injury whilst away on international duty with Brazil at the World Cup. 

For Manchester United, the time away should have given Erik ten Hag time to reflect on his first few months in charge and prepare for a hectic second half of the campaign.

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There’s plenty to play for in the league with a place in the Champions League very much up for grabs. Burnley are the visitors in the next round of the Carabao Cup, while a home draw against Everton in the FA Cup means there’s an all Premier League affair to look forward to.  

Oh, and have we mentioned Barcelona in the knockout round of the Europa League?  

One positive to take from the last month is Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.

The United manager will no doubt be privately delighted that the dark cloud has moved on, and while United’s two winter friendlies have resulted in two defeats, there will be a sense of relief at Old Trafford (especially amongst some staff members), that the unwanted distraction is no longer present.  

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Ten Hag should take great credit and strength from how he dealt with the Ronaldo saga, but he’s gone now and it’s time to look forward.  

Supporters are already looking ahead to the January transfer window and who the club might try and sign. They overspent last summer, so is money available to fill the large Ronaldo shaped hole? 

To buy a striker that can contribute week-in, week-out, you are probably looking at spending the best part of £100million – the type of money United simply don’t have.  

With that in mind, we can rule out the permanent transfer of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Atlético Madrid’s Joao Felix. 

United are talking to Cody Gakpo’s agent to see if they can conclude an unlikely deal this winter.

The PSV Eindhoven forward was pursued in the summer but the Dutch side will want near double what they asked for in July.

That is not only because his absence will provide an unwanted disruption to their squad – but also due to how he performed for the Netherlands at the World Cup, scoring three times in five matches.  

If that’s not doable now, what about a return for Memphis Depay? He struggled during his first spell at Old Trafford but United are desperate for someone to play in those forward positions, and the Barcelona man might feel like he has unfinished business in Manchester.

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Would Memphis be the long-term solution? Absolutely not, but United need someone in as quickly as possible in January. 

Twitter @MrTomMcDermott

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