Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney believes the club made a mistake in re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.
Rooney, the Red Devils’ all-time record goalscorer, opines that United are not doing enough to bring through younger, hungrier players. He went on to say that the Portuguese superstar is blocking the path for academy prospects.
Ronaldo joined from Juventus for £13.5 million in August, returning to Old Trafford after leaving for Real Madrid in 2009 for a then world-record fee.
Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in 31 games, including some vital strikes to help his side progress to the Champions League knockout stages. Despite this, Rooney feels that the club have taken a step backwards in signing the 37-year-old.
When asked on Sky Sports if he feels the move has worked out for the club, the current Derby County manager said:
“No, (signing Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t worked out well for Manchester United). He’s scored goals, he’s scored important goals in the Champions League early on in the season.
“He’s scored the hat-trick against Tottenham, but I think if you look into the future or the club, you have to go with younger, hungry players to lift Manchester United over the next 2-3 years.”
“He obviously isn’t the player he was when he was in his 20s. And that happens, that’s football. He’s a goal threat, but I think (for the rest of the game), they need young and hungry players.”
Rooney played alongside Ronaldo between 2005-2009, but clearly feels that the club now need to look to the future rather than signing players who are past their peak.
According to Spotrac, the five-time Ballon D’Or winner is currently paid £510,000 per week, over 20% more than the next highest earner Kevin De Bruyne.
United have endured a difficult season, currently sitting seventh in the Premier League. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has faced significant criticism since his arrival in November for his style of play.
Rooney believes that current PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino would be an ideal fit to take the club into a new era. He stated Pochettino’s Premier League track record and reputation for developing young players as the reasons for his choice.
England’s highest ever men’s goalscorer stated:”Pochettino, in my opinion, is a top manager. He knows how to work with top class players but also with young players. They need to get that blend right because they can’t afford to fail again.”
Rooney added:”Pochettino’s done it in the Premier League, he knows the Premier League. At Tottenham he brought a lot of young players through, at Southampton as well, he brought a lot of young players through.”