Tuesday, February 27News That Matters

Erik Ten Hag names three Man Utd players who can replace Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has suggested Facundo Pellistri is among the players who could offset Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit.

Pellistri is yet to make his United debut more than two years on from arriving for £9m and he has been an unused substitute in 13 of their last 14 matches.

The Uruguay international’s agent claimed at the start of November “his departure is imminent” but Ten Hag highlighted Pellistri’s display in the behind-closed-doors draw with Everton last week.

“Two things. First, that goals can also come out of our own club,” Ten Hag said of United’s issues up front. “See (Alejandro) Garnacho, see (Anthony) Elanga, see Pellistri, who made a good impression on the World Cup and last week in the game against Everton and in training, so that is first.

“But yes, we are aware we have lost a striker so I think we have to get a striker in but it has to be the right one and the right one needs to bring the quality into the team and not just add to the squad, because that gives you only problems. The criteria is high here at Man United.”

Ten Hag confirmed he wants to sign a goalscorer in January in United’s training camp in Spain. the club have only scored 20 goals in 14 Premier League matches and have a goal difference of zero.

Marcus Rashford is United’s highest scorer this campaign with nine goals and Anthony Martial is second on nine but the Frenchman has missed 14 of United’s 22 games with three separate injuries.

Antony was sidelined for five matches with a muscular issue and Jadon Sancho has not played since October 22, having embarked on individual training programme. Anthony Elanga has not scored a goal since February 22.

“I see it this way – it’s a good sign we are still fifth,” Ten Hag added. “We are aware we have to score more goals, we have to improve on many more elements in football.

“As you saw today (against Burnley), we created so many opportunities, not really big 100 per cent chances and we have to be more decisive there. You are worried when you don’t create chances.

“I am really happy with the performance, the attacking performance, that we create seven or eight good chances, but it’s clear we have to score more.”

When asked if he was concerned by the absence of a proven goalscorer, Ten Hag said: “No, no, no, no. Because when you analyse the first 14 games, we had a lot of problems in the front line. Often I had nothing to choose or players were not 100 per cent fit and I have had to play them. That was a problem in the first games this season.

“When we get players fit and available in the front line then we will score more goals.”

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