Manchester United

The Man Utd players who will benefit from Cristiano Ronaldo's exit

Michael Graham
Cristiano Ronaldo's likely Man Utd departure could be good for some
Cristiano Ronaldo's likely Man Utd departure could be good for some / Visionhaus/GettyImages
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Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have firmly turned his back on Manchester United, and it's now clear a parting of the ways is the best solution for both club and player.

Ordinarily, a player of his prestige going after the club in the manner than he has would be a divisive and difficult situation for the club, but if anything it has simplified everything for Man Utd.

It has also created opportunities for other Man Utd players to shine, so let's look at those who could benefit the most.


1. Charlie McNeill

Charlie McNeill
Charlie McNeill has scored goals for fun at youth level / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Ronaldo’s exit will mean Man Utd will be stepping up their search for a striker, but in the meantime they may turn to their academy to help fill the void.

That could mean a chance for McNeill, who reportedly scored more than 600 goals at various levels in the youth setup at rivals Manchester City.

McNeill has already had a taste of the Man Utd first team, coming on as a second-half substitute in the Europa League against Real Sociedad. Expect him to get further chances.


2. Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial is desperate for one last Man Utd chance / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

Anthony Martial has, in no way, lived up to the hype that surrounded him as a youngster, and in some regards it is almost surprising that he is still at the club.

He has been given a clean slate by Erik ten Hag, though, who seems to like the look of him in a central position.

That is where Martial wants to be and, unless Man Utd can land a marquee signing in January, the Frenchman might get the chance to stake his claim that he has always wanted.


3. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford could do with regular minutes under less pressure / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

The last year or two have not been great for Marcus Rashford. In fact, for most of them he has seemed a little bit lost – almost stranded between no longer being a younger player but yet to establish himself as a leading senior pro at the club.

He has looked better of late though, and was rewarded for that form with a recall to the England squad for the World Cup.

Ronaldo’s likely exit should force him to take on more responsibility, and that could push him to a whole new level.


4. Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho still trying to find form at Man Utd / Robin Jones/GettyImages

At the time of writing, Jadon Sancho would probably enter into the conversation of Man Utd's big money flops.

No one will be giving up on him, of course, and rightly so. His talent is obvious and he proved he could showcase it at a top club during his Borussia Dortmund days.

It’s hard to put your finger on just why Sancho has struggled so much at Man Utd, and its certainly not Cristiano Ronaldo’s fault in any way. That said, all of Man Utd’s attacking players get more freedom to play when the Portuguese isn't around, and good lord does Sancho look like he needs that.

In the Premier League defeat at Aston Villa, for example, Ten Hag claimed his players ignored his instructions to ‘stupidly’ attempted long diagonal crosses to Ronaldo. Sancho is never going to thrive in an environment like that.


5. Alejandro Garnacho

Alejandro Garnacho
Alejandro Garnacho is an emerging star at Old Trafford / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Where Garnacho is concerned, it’s not so much a case of him going to benefit from Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the club, because he already is.

As Ronaldo’s influence and involvement has diminished under Erik ten Hag, Garnacho’s has grown until he was very much the man all fans were talking about going into the World Cup break.

Maintaining that level will be the challenge for him, but he should get a lot more opportunities without Ronaldo in his way.


6. Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes
Will Man Utd get the old Bruno Fernandes back? / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

No one is saying that Cristiano Ronaldo is to blame for the diminished influence of Bruno Fernandes, but it certainly looks like a factor.

Before Ronaldo returned to Man Utd, Fernandes had 45 Premier League goal contributions in 51 matches. Since Ronaldo arrived that has dropped significantly to 18 in 49 – which is similar to his record for Portugal.

That can’t be a coincidence, and it suggests that Fernandes is largely conditioned to defer responsibility to his compatriot. With Cristiano Ronaldo out of the picture, perhaps Man Utd will get the old Bruno Fernandes back again.

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