Man Utd urged to build team around Cristiano Ronaldo despite identifying £60m replacement


Jaap Stam believes Manchester United should build their team around Cristiano Ronaldo, despite reports linking them with Benfica striker Darwin Nunez.

The Red Devils are believed to be considering a €71million (£60m) bid for the Uruguay international, 22. Nunez has enjoyed a blistering campaign in Portugal, scoring 27 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions. Benfica are believed to value him at £67m.

United will look to improve their ageing squad this summer after a poor campaign. They’re sixth in the Premier League – four points behind Arsenal in fourth having played a game more – and failed to challenge in the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League.

According to The Telegraph, United’s hopes of signing Nunez could hinge on their league position. It’s believed the youngster wants to play in the Champions League next season, meaning a move to Spanish champions Atletico Madrid could be more likely.

Brighton attempted to sign Nunez last term, while Newcastle and West Ham both showed an interest in him in January. Nunez will face Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals later this month, aiming to help Benfica cause a huge shock in Europe.

Despite the transfer rumours, Stam believes think Ronaldo should be United’s main striker next season. The former Red Devils defender has also backed Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba – who is out of contract at the end of the season – to play major roles.

“Well, the midfield of course, and the defence is very important,” Stam told bettingexpert when asked about United’s transfer priorities. “When you’re looking at the squad now, there are a few players I think you work around in building your team.

“That’s Cristiano if you want to keep him. I think Bruno as well, in the midfield. I would keep Pogba, also there is a big discussion, but I think you need to use him in a certain way because I like him as a player and what he can bring.”

Stam played for United between 1998 and 2001, winning three Premier League titles, the Champions League, FA Cup and Intercontinental Cup – a precursor for the Club World Cup. He also represented the likes of Lazio, AC Milan and Ajax.

Stam went on to say: “These are three players that I’m thinking okay if you can use them then you need to work the team around them and try to create the team around them so you can play very nice and attractive football.

“You’ve got wingers, Rashford on the wing, with a lot of pace. There’s Sancho as well for the other side that you can use as well. With his right foot, he comes in from the left, on the inside with his right. That means you need to have a full back who is very fit and very good on the ball and can go up and down the pitch for 95 minutes but not be injured occasionally.

“Trying to have somebody who can be up for it, week in and week out and play a lot of games. That’s what you need to have on the right side as well.”