As the month of June progresses, the unavoidable sale of wing wizard Cristiano Ronaldo comes closer and closer.
Losing the most recent winner of the prestigious Ballon d'Or and FIFA Player of the Year awards will never be easy for a club to handle. However, if one club is able to handle such a thing, Manchester United would be the one.
Different disputes have been made over the loss of one of the greatest players ever to step onto the grass of Old Trafford. Some think that Cristiano was, by far, the most important player on the team. Experts believe that his loss will improve the team over the next years.
The first argument can be backed up by numbers. Taking a look at his "magical" season, and the one just ended, astounding figures present themselves.
Ronaldo scored 42 goals last season, yet only had seven assists in the league in 34 appearances! That's extremely low for a first-choice winger on a team that scored 80 goals and won 27 games.
In the '07-'08 season, Cristiano found his deliverings worse than those of Nickey Shorey, Martin Petrov, and Simon Davies, who all outshone him in assists. This isn't acceptable for a player who is supposed to be the "best winger in the world."
After all, a player who is positioned at the right wing has a responsibility of serving the forwards with passes.
The season of '08-'09 proved no better for Cristiano in terms of assisting his forwards. He had a total of six assists in 33 appearances—certainly not impressive for a winger.
He was, once again, outshone in the assist department by teammates Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, and Ryan Giggs (despite Berbatov and Giggs playing in fewer games than he did).
However, once again he managed to gather together a decent goal haul of 18 league goals.
From these numbers, we can easily determine that his wing play is nowhere near as good as other wingers in the league, yet his goal tally certainly is impressive.
Forty-nine league goals in two consecutive seasons is almost as good as it gets and has only been eclipsed by Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry. However, this is a winger, not a striker.
Some say (such as the probably highly intelligent Cesc Fabregas) that United is a one-man team.
He said, "Ronaldo won the last two leagues on his own." Sure Cesc, whatever you say.
The point of this is that when Cristiano moves into forward positions, he pushes gifted players such as Rooney, Carlos Tevez, and Berbatov out of their respective positions, which eventually lessens the effect of the team.
He took 103 shots in the season '08-'09 (some say 111, others say 96), and United had a total of 230 shots in the league. That means that our winger had roughly half of the shots taken. This is bound to cause a diminishing return of our main goal scorers.
Therefore, as the experts would explain, Cristiano Ronaldo is very much replaceable. We might lose a prolific goal scorer, but with a proper winger, the forwards of the club will once again excel.
Rooney will especially benefit from Ronaldo's exit. The last two or three seasons have seen the talent that we brought him in for wasted. He has been put out wide, put in midfield, and, most importantly, has played second fiddle to Cristiano's ego.
Given a decent winger (in the classic sense of the term) like Antonio Valencia or, even better, Franck Ribery, Manchester United's team will flourish much more, and forwards Berbatov and Rooney will prove to be even more useful than we have ever seen them before.
Even Nani, I believe, could turn on the heat for a right wing spot and once and for all prove his talent.
The question is just who the boss will bring in to replace one of his best-ever players.