Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would not rule out Manchester United players leaving following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, saying the Portugal star was “not signed to sit on the bench”.
The Red Devils announced on Friday that they had agreed a deal with Juventus, reportedly worth an initial £12.8million (€15m), to bring the 36-year-old back to Old Trafford subject to personal terms, a visa and a medical.
The signing could not be completed in time for United’s Premier League clash with Wolves on Sunday, which was settled by a Mason Greenwood strike in the 80th minute as Solskjaer’s men set a new English league record of 28 away games unbeaten.
With an international break now coming up, Ronaldo’s first chance to turn out for the club he left in 2009 is likely to be against Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11.
Solskjaer, who confirmed on Sky Sports that he intends to deploy Ronaldo more as a centre-forward than a wide player, hopes the new addition will be ready as soon as possible once the deal is concluded and he returns from Portugal duties.
“We need to get all the paperwork done. Hopefully we can get that sorted and announce it 100 per cent,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s away with Portugal, I think they’ve got three games, his last game is on the Tuesday, so get him back to Manchester with Bruno [Fernandes] and hopefully he’ll be involved as soon as possible.”
Ronaldo’s comeback means United are stocked in attack and could look to offload some players before the transfer window closes.
Amad Diallo had been close to joining Feyenoord on loan, although an injury could reportedly scupper that move, while Jesse Lingard and Dan James have also been linked with departures.
“Of course, he [Ronaldo] was not signed to sit on the bench,” said Solskjaer. “He’s going to make us a better team, of course.
“There have been a couple of enquiries for some of our players and with the signing of Cristiano, we might give less playing time to a few.
“Dan is a Man United player at the moment.”
United laboured for much of the first hour at Molineux and were indebted to a stunning double save from David de Gea to deny Romain Saiss shortly before Greenwood’s winner.
“We got three points, get a clean sheet, on another day they might score one in the first half when Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] saves one off the line, or when David saves those two chances second half,” Solskjaer said.
“With Mason, he’s a special kid. The boy is unique at hitting the target quickly: right foot, left foot, it doesn’t matter to him.
“We’ve played better, definitely, but sometimes you’ve got to earn your luck and I thought we did.”
Solskjaer was delighted with the performance of defender Raphael Varane, who was largely impeccable at the back and even earned an assist on his United debut.
“Top, top performance,” Solskjaer said. “This was ‘welcome to the Premier League’: tempo, hustle-bustle, tackle, have to defend counter-attacks. He’s good in the air, so composed on the ball and he’s so experienced, nothing fazes him, and he was good in the dressing room before the game and at half-time.
“I’m delighted for him. I thought he showed his class.”
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