Manchester United

How Man Utd could line up without Cristiano Ronaldo

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Ronaldo is open to leaving Old Trafford this summer
Ronaldo is open to leaving Old Trafford this summer / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

It's seemingly taken just one full campaign for Cristiano Ronaldo to get sick of Manchester United, with the legendary forward asking the club to consider any reasonable offers for his services this summer.

With Edinson Cavani also leaving at the end of last season, Ronaldo's potential departure leaves United with a void to fill in the centre-forward position.

Should Erik ten Hag work with what he's got, or dip into the transfer market? Here's an in-depth look at how United could line up without CR7 this season.

Robert Lewandowski as a replacement

Robert Lewandowski has not been shy in voicing his desire to leave Bayern Munich this summer. The free-scoring frontman has made it clear that Barcelona is his desired location but the Blaugrana's continuing financial issues may make that move impossible.

A United liberated of Ronaldo's monster wages would have the financial muscle to secure Lewandowski's services, and he would seemingly slot right in at the tip of the Red Devils' frontline.

Flanked by tricky wide players and creativity in midfield in the form of Antony and Frenkie de Jong (transfer window permitting) and it is easy to see the Poland international scoring for fun at Old Trafford.

Potential lineup:

  • De Jong (CM), Fred (CM), Fernandes (AM), Antony (RW), Lewandowski (ST), Sancho (LW)

Rashford/Elanga as a centre-forward

Marcus Rashford
Rashford has a point to prove this season / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Yes, yes, yes. We all know Marcus Rashford did not have the best 2021/22 season. To be honest, his displays bordered on the embarrassing at times.

However, with a full pre-season under his belt Rashford must be buzzing for the new campaign to get underway.

Although he has frequently been deployed out wide in his more recent career, Rashford is more than capable operating through the middle. He's averaged over a goal every three games in the position during his career so far.

Another player who could be in line for a positional tweak is Anthony Elanga. Like Rashford, the Swede was generally used out wide in his breakout season, but he is familiar in a conventional number-nine berth too.

Potential lineups:

  • De Jong (CM), Fred (CM), Fernandes (AM), Antony (RW), Rashford (ST), Sancho (LW)
  • De Jong (CM), Fred (CM), Fernandes (AM), Antony (RW), Elanga (ST), Sancho (LW)

Anthony Martial redemption

It may be hard to imagine right now, but stranger things have happened in football.

After failing to reignite his career on loan at Sevilla, Anthony Martial returned to Old Trafford with his tail between his legs this summer.

Despite flattering to deceive in a red shirt for some time before his loan exit, the early signs suggest that Ten Hag could be open to trying Martial out in some capacity next season provided he does not secure a permanent transfer.

Could we be about to witness a miraculous comeback from the Frenchman?

  • De Jong (CM), Fred (CM), Fernandes (AM), Antony (RW), Martial (ST), Sancho (LW)

Bruno Fernandes through the middle?

In the now infamous Manchester Derby mauling in March, Ralf Rangnick tried out Bruno Fernandes as a nominal centre-forward for the first time.

Although it did not really work on that occasion - City romped to a 4-1 win - this is a tactical ploy that Ten Hag could be tempted to try out again.

The Dutchman is a fan of compatriot Donny van de Beek and Fernandes' movement out of midfield would allow the former Ajax man to possess his favoured advanced midfield role.

  • De Jong (CM), Fred (CM), Van de Beek (AM), Antony (RW), Fernandes (ST), Sancho (LW)