You Can’t Go Home Again

After weeks of inactivity, Manchester United’s transfer window just got very interesting.

On Tuesday, Manchester United unveiled its first summer signing. Feyenoord left back Tyrell Malacia was, seemingly, on his way to Lyon for an initial transfer fee of €13 million with up to €2 million in add-ons. But then United hijacked the move, trumping Lyon’s offer with a deal that could reach €17 million.

And that might just be the first transfer hijacking of this summer. Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez looked like he was heading to Arsenal before United jumped in with a late bid. Erik ten Hag is pushing for a reunion with his former player, and that could tip the scales in United’s favor. If Martinez comes, he and Malacia would join a list of hijacked deals that includes such luminaries as Roy Keane, Diego Forlan, Dimitar Berbatov, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, and just last summer, Cristiano Ronaldo. More on that last one in a minute.

Then, it was reported that playmaking midfielder Christian Eriksen has agreed to sign with United as a free agent. The Danish assist machine played very well after signing with Brentford in January in his first action since nearly dying of cardiac arrest at Euro 2021. The heart condition is certainly a risk, but considering United are getting him on a free transfer, it’s a low one. Given his ability to play quick passes, beat the low-block, and control the midfield with patient build-up play, he could be just the type of playmaker United needs (and a nice counter-balance to Bruno Fernandes, who can be profligate and impatient).

But the biggest news over the last few days was that United’s talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, has decided he wants out. According to The Athletic, Ronaldo wishes to make one last run for major trophies, in particular in the Champions League, and doesn’t think he can do that at United.

He’s probably not wrong. As undeniably brilliant as Ronaldo was last year (he had 24 goals in all appearances, and arguably saved United from being in the relegation zone), his presence may have actually hindered the team. His high standards and professionalism clashed with a dressing room full of entitled, pampered dilettantes, and it’s possible that his penchant for late-game heroics meant that players often just stood around and waited for him to bail them out.

Ronaldo also presented tactical problems, especially after Ralf Rangnick took over. His age and style of play meant that he wasn’t suited to playing Rangnick’s high-pressing style and if ten Hag plays a similar style, as expected, then there could be more problems. Additionally, as both Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjær found out, Ronaldo looms large over the team — every time he gets substituted in a match without his blessing or starts the match on the bench, it will be front page news for days.

The romantics in us wanted it to work out, but a divorce might just be for the best. And by making his feelings known now instead of later in the transfer window, he’s given United a chance to go and get another forward. Now it’s on the team to sign the right guy.

Unfrozen Caveman Law Writer

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