Five potential Cristiano Ronaldo replacements that Manchester United should be scouting at the World Cup

Possible replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United Credit: Alamy
Possible replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United Credit: Alamy

After announcing Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, Manchester United will now be in the market for a new striker during the January transfer window. 

Ronaldo was United’s top goalscorer in 2021/22 and they have struggled in front of goal this season, scoring just 20 goals in 14 Premier League games.

Erik ten Hag could use the World Cup to identify Ronaldo’s replacement as a lot of highly-rated strikers will be playing in Qatar.

We’ve taken a look at five strikers that United should be looking at during the tournament.

Dusan Vlahovic

Vlahovic became a household name in 2021 after scoring 33 league goals for Fiorentina, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the most Serie A goals in a calendar year. 

Juventus needed a new striker after selling Ronaldo to United in August 2021 and spent an initial £58m on the 22-year-old in the January transfer window.

He inherited Ronaldo’s No.7 shirt in Turin but has struggled to replicate his best form at the Allianz Stadium, scoring 16 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions in 2022. 

Admittedly, Juventus endured a difficult start to 2022/23 and Massimiliano Allegri’s tactics often leave the Serbia striker isolated as an attacking force.

According to the Daily Telegraph, United could try and capitalise on Juventus’ struggles and are monitoring Vlahovic’s situation.

While his physical qualities would serve him well in the Premier League, he also has the pace and clever movement to run in behind defenders.

At international level, the striker plays alongside Fulham’s Aleksandr Mitrovic in a front two and has scored nine goals in 17 appearances.

Vlahovic will now be hoping to showcase his skills on the biggest stage as Serbia face Brazil, Switzerland and Cameroon in the World Cup group stages.

Lautaro Martinez

Another household name, Martinez joined Inter Milan in 2018 and has established himself as one of Europe’s most sought-after centre forwards. 

He has scored 82 goals in 202 appearances for Inter, helping them win a Serie A title, Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana.

While the striker has publicly committed his future to the Serie A side, they have been struggling financially and might have to sell one of their biggest assets.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, United want Martinez and spoke to his agent after he scored in Inter’s 3-3 draw against Barcelona last month. 

“He can certainly do that,” South American football journalist Tim Vickery told GiveMeSport when asked if Martinez can press from the front. “He can certainly play that game and he is more than just an out-and-out number nine.

“He’s mobile and versatile, but he’s also simple and uncomplicated. You put the ball in front of him and it goes into the back of the net whether it be left foot, right foot or in the air. I think he might well be a fit for United.”

The 25-year-old has become the undisputed striker for Argentina and has 21 goals in 41 caps for his country, including seven in their World Cup qualifiers.

Despite their shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, Argentina are still regarded as one of the favourites to win the 2022 World Cup and Martinez will be targeting the Golden Boot. 

Goncalo Ramos

A Benfica academy graduate, Ramos has helped fill the void left by Darwin Nunez’s departure by registering 14 goals and six assists in 21 appearances in all competitions this season.

According to the Sun, United have made contact with his representatives and would be willing to pay the £25m asking price in January.

Ten Hag reportedly wants to sign a dynamic centre-forward that can contribute to the build-up play and Ramos fits the bill perfectly. 

“Increasingly, more is asked of a spearhead to be more complete,” Ramos said recently. “People thought that a striker is only there to score goals and the rest doesn’t matter, but I think that over the last few years that image is disappearing a little bit.

“It is increasingly important for a striker to be more in the game and contribute more to the team, to connect the game, to put pressure on. Often with movements in which you end up in another position and ask for another type of task.”

Despite being uncapped at senior international level, Ramos was named in Portugal’s squad for the World Cup and then marked his debut with a goal and assist in a friendly win over Nigeria.

Admittedly, he probably won’t start for Portugal in Qatar as Fernando Santos has the likes of Ronaldo, Rafael Leao, Andre Silva and Joao Felix at his disposal. 

But the 21-year-old could come off the bench as an impact substitute and eventually force his way into Santos’ starting XI. 

Goncalo Ramos Credit: Alamy
Goncalo Ramos Credit: Alamy

Jonathan David

David made the move to France in the summer of 2020 and was part of the victorious Lille squad that upstaged PSG to win the Ligue 1 title in 2020/21.

He’s since gone from strength to strength and has registered nine goals and three assists in 15 Ligue 1 appearances this season.

The 22-year-old has been linked with United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle and has opened the door to a potential transfer.

“Yeah, you know for me, I was always watching European football on TV and that was always the goal to go to Europe,” David told Sky Sports.

“The next step is always growing, having more ambition, a bigger club I think. Every player wants to play for a massive club in their life. So I think if I had the chance to do it, I’ll go for it for sure.

“I think they’re two different leagues [the Premier League and La Liga]. But I think I can adapt to both for sure. And I think with the experience that I’ve had here in France, it will help me a lot if I need to adapt to some place else a lot faster. So yeah I think both leagues suit me.”

Despite being born in America, the striker represents Canada at international level and has helped them reach their first World Cup since 1986.

He’ll come up against Croatia, Morocco and Belgium in the group stages and will hope that his performances in Qatar lead to a Premier League move.

Mehdi Taremi

A late bloomer, Taremi did not make the move to Europe until he joined Portuguese club Rio Ave at the age of 27 in 2019. 

He moved to Porto a year later and has since registered 62 goals and 43 assists in 115 appearances in all competitions, including the 2020/21 Champions League goal of the season.

The 30-year-old hasn’t been linked with United but would represent a short-term and low-cost replacement for Ronaldo. 

Despite being starved of possession during Iran’s 6-2 defeat against England at the World Cup, he showcased his ruthless streak by scoring with a brilliant first-time shot before converting a late penalty.

Taremi now has 30 goals in 61 international appearances and will be hoping to add to his tally during games against Wales and the USA.

READ MORE: Ronaldo departs: How Manchester United’s last 10 big-name departures have fared away from Old Trafford

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