Man Utd striker hunt turns back to Ronaldo in bizarre twist, with January deal to lay foundation for summer coup

Al Nassr striker Cristiano Ronaldo Credit: Alamy
Al Nassr striker Cristiano Ronaldo Credit: Alamy

Cristiano Ronaldo may have inadvertently helped Man Utd sign their next striker in January, while one newspaper believe a move for a France international will have to wait until the summer.

The Portuguese legend, 37, became the highest-paid sportsperson in the world upon signing on the dotted line with Saudi Arabian club, Al Nassr. Ronaldo could pocket up to £175m-a-year though his basic salary and commercial and sponsorship deals.

His premature exit from Manchester United left his former club with a hole to fill up front. However, after overspending on the likes of Antony last summer, the Daily Mail echo those that claim a short-term loan in January is the likeliest outcome.

They report United are ‘likely to be restricted’ to loans this month, with a stop-gap solution then paving the way for a higher profile and permanent capture over the summer.

On that front, the Daily Mail report United are continuing to monitor Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram.

The France international, 25, has notched 17 goals contributions in 17 matches in Germany this season. His stellar club form saw him earn a place in Didier Deschamps’ French World Cup squad.

Thuram is out of contract at season’s end and as such, a cut-price January move had been touted.

However, Sunday’s Transfer Gossip revealed why Gladbach are having second thoughts about cashing in.

Instead, Thuram could be retained for the final six months of his deal, though the Mail are keen to point out he’s now free to discuss his next move with potential suitors.

United are deemed to be ‘monitoring’ Thuram’s developments and could forge a pre-contract agreement with the striker at any stage now January 1 has passed. Doing so would allow Man Utd to bring Thuram on board without having to pay a transfer fee in the summer.

However, that route would not solve Erik ten Hag’s immediate need for reinforcements right now.

Ronaldo move could facilitate Man Utd signing from Saudi Arabia

On that front, the Athletic recently detailed what it’ll take to sign Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix on loan. Arsenal are expected to provide competition in the event Felix does depart.

Alternatively, the Mail put forward two other potential loan signings, with one facilitated by Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr.

Barcelona’s Memphis Depay is named as well as Al Nassr’s Vincent Aboubakar.

The Cameroon striker, 30, will lose his regular starting role following Ronaldo’s arrival and the report suggest Al Nassr could respond by loaning Aboubakar out.

He operated at roughly a goal every other game in tougher leagues during his stints with FC Porto (2014-20) and Besiktas (2016/17 – loan & 2020/21).

Aboubakar joined Al Nassr on a three-year deal in the summer of 2021. However, fast forward 18 months and his place is all but certain to be lost to Ronaldo.

The Mail tout the veteran as one of Man Utd’s potential loan options and his arrival would provide back-up to Anthony Martial who’d be expected to continue leading the line in the second half of the season.

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