The alternative to Manchester United's proposed £80m mega-deal

Reports this morning claim Manchester United intended to spend £80million on Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. But was it the right plan?

All summer, Manchester United have been linked with a not-so-surprise move to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

That it didn’t happen before the transfer window slammed shut hasn’t stopped the rumours, with the Daily Mail claiming United have been working on a deal to bring the Portuguese forward “home” for nearly a year…and they will continue to do so.

The report claims that prior to leaving their roles, Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill began work on a complex deal that would see Ronaldo return for a fee of £80million, collecting a bumper wage packet to boot.

And how would they afford such a thing?

The Mail claims the deal was to be part-financed by a commercial package as a result of the club’s global expansion. While all the transfer dithering this summer is claimed to be a result of the stalled Ronaldo deal, rather than any lack of business acumen on the part of new chief executive Ed Woodward.

True or not – and many will have their doubts – there is a question to be asked as to whether the money needed to re-acquire Ronaldo could be better spent strengthening the team as a whole.

Signing one of the two best players in the world is surely a no-brainer. With Ronaldo in the team, United enjoyed their most successful spell in recent years, reaching two Champions League finals and winning one.

That they returned to the final in 2011 without their one-time talisman is testament to both Ferguson and the side sans Ronaldo. But there is little doubt putting the now-28-year-old into their team would instantly improve it.

And yet by the time he arrives, if he ever does, he is likely to be at least 29, and with the considerable outlay required there is an alternative.

This is a theory that requires the latest Ronaldo claims to be true, but if United were indeed holding £80million in reserve, would they have been smarter to make the following changes instead.

Had they acted quickly and activated release clauses they could have signed Marouane Fellaini for £23.5million, Thiago Alcantara for £21.5million and Ezequiel Garay for £17million.

If Thiago really only had eyes for Bayern – despite those eye lashes only seeming to flutter in their direction after weeks of speculation linking him with Old Trafford – then the signing of Ander Herrera for £31million would have still seen Moyes left with change from the Ronaldo fund.

United could have got Fellaini, Thiago and Garay for a combined fee of £62million. Swap Thiago for Herrera and that amount rises to £71.5million.

That is all very simple, and it doesn’t take into account wages, agents’ fees and the like, but considering the young players coming through at Old Trafford – most notably Adnan Januzaj, Wilfried Zaha and Nick Powell – do United really need a single superstar or a group of talented, and some would say necessary, new arrivals?

Perhaps the latest Ronaldo story is just another twist on an impossible scenario. Or perhaps Woodward really has that money for the stellar signings he was talking about and the necessities have been drowned out by the dreams.

Would you prefer United to spend £80million on Ronaldo, or strengthen all over the pitch?

image: © Gordon Flood

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch