Erik ten Hag insists Cristiano Ronaldo still needed at Man United despite Antony arrival

Dutchman says United need 'quality' attackers in squad ahead of match at Leicester

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag insists Cristiano Ronaldo still has a vital role to play at Old Trafford despite the imminent arrival of Antony.

The Portuguese veteran continues to be linked with a move away from the club but – despite the likes of Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon and Chelsea having been mentioned as possible destinations – no deal appears close.

United have improved their attacking options having agreed an £81.3 million deal for Ajax winger Antony on Tuesday.

But Ten Hag says that signing is an essential boost to United’s attack ahead of the club's Europa League campaign that begins next week, rather than any sign that Ronaldo will be allowed to move this week before the transfer window closes.

“It is clear, we need quality players,” said the Dutch coach ahead of United's Premier League game at Leicester City on Thursday.

“You need more and to cover all the games to keep the consistency going, that’s what we strive for.

“Especially from offensive players, they are quicker fatigued because they have to run more and run with higher intensity. We expect that from them and our way of play.

“We need numbers there, we need not just quantity but quality.”

United have also been linked with a move for Martin Dubravka and Ten Hag does not believe there will be any more arrivals if they seal deals for the Newcastle United goalkeeper and Antony.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag speaks to Cristiano Ronaldo before his introduction as substitute against Southampton. AFP

The club have already spent close to £230m this summer brining in Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro.

“Firstly I have to sign [Antony],” said Ten Hag. “There’s an agreement between the clubs but the paperwork is not done so I cannot go too deep into that.

“For this window it will be the end [after Antony and Dubravka] but when there is a great opportunity you have to always be alert as a top club.”

Ten Hag, who confirmed full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka would remain at the club, added: “I see it as a start, we now have a good base. This is the minimum we have to bring.

“I was happy to see the turn and we have to keep the spirit and keep this winning mentality because you need it if you want to have a successful season.”

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United started their Premier League campaign with a home defeat against Brighton before being humiliated 4-0 at Brentford, as they sat bottom of the standings after two fixtures.

But their fortunes have improved in the last couple of weeks after edging out fierce rivals Liverpool and then Southampton, and they can make it a hat-trick of wins by beating the Foxes.

Leicester have endured a miserable start to their season, taking just one point from a possible 12, but Ten Hag refused to take anything for granted ahead of United’s trip to the King Power Stadium.

The former Ajax manager added: “Their identity is really good to see, they play really good football so we have to be really good to get a result there.”

Updated: August 31, 2022, 2:57 PM
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