EPL

Ronaldo set for Man Utd return as Rangnick issues Henderson and Van de Beek transfer advice

By Sports Desk January 14, 2022

Ralf Rangnick has told Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek to sit tight and wait for their chances to come at Manchester United.

The United interim boss, who expects to have Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire back for Saturday's Premier League match at Aston Villa, knows Henderson and Van de Beek have been considering leaving Old Trafford.

Speaking in a news conference on Friday, Rangnick made the case that goalkeeper Henderson and midfielder Van de Beek can be useful assets for the Red Devils over the closing months of the season.

He described Henderson as a "fantastic" shot-stopper, but recognised he wanted Premier League game time that cannot be guaranteed at United. The Englishman has played just twice for United this term, neither appearance coming in the league.

Rangnick also knows Van de Beek is hungry for first-team football for the sake of his Netherlands career, with the World Cup coming up in Qatar at the end of the year.

Addressing Henderson's situation initially, Rangnick said: "I told him that I would like him to stay because he's a fantastic goalkeeper. In training yesterday, he had another couple of fantastic saves.

"I really like to have him on board, as one of three top goalkeepers. I can fully understand that he wants to play because he's in an age where, as a goalkeeper, he should regularly play.

"On the other hand, we are still in three competitions, we need the three goalkeepers we have right now. I told him that, but I can also, on the other hand, understand his desire to get game-time elsewhere in the Premier League."

David de Gea has reasserted himself as United's first choice between the posts, after Henderson played 13 Premier League games last season, while the other senior goalkeeper on United's books is third-choice Tom Heaton.

Henderson was not involved in the FA Cup clash with Villa on Monday, when United took a nervy 1-0 win in the third round. De Gea started that game and Heaton was the substitute goalkeeper, with Rangnick saying it was illness that kept Henderson out of the game.

Van de Beek came off the bench in the 72nd minute to strengthen a midfield that was being over-run.

The former Ajax man could be practically assured of regular involvement at another club, but at United he has been used just seven times in the Premier League this term. All those appearances have been as a substitute, with Van de Beek spending a meagre total of 68 minutes on the pitch.

"It's the same situation as it is with Dean," said Rangnick. "I'm glad to have him in the squad."

The former RB Leipzig boss said he spoke to Van de Beek after training two weeks ago.

"I told him I would advise him to stay until the end of the season. He wants to play in the World Cup for his country and [Netherlands coach] Louis van Gaal obviously told him that in order to be a regular starter for the World Cup, he needs to regularly play for his team," Rangnick said.

"I can understand his desire to play; on the other hand, we have a lot of competition in our squad in exactly those positions."

United were without Maguire and Ronaldo for the cup clash with Villa, so to have them back adds experience and quality at each end of the pitch, albeit with neither man having been at the height of his powers in recent weeks.

Across his career, Ronaldo has been involved in 11 goals in nine Premier League starts against Villa (eight goals, three assists). That is the most goals he has scored (eight) and been involved in (11) against a specific opponent in the competition.

Jadon Sancho and Phil Jones should also be up for selection after being absent for the FA Cup game.

"I think they will be available," Rangnick said of his quartet. "They only trained yesterday for the first time, Cristiano yesterday, Harry the day before yesterday.

"We have to wait for the final session this afternoon but as it seems right now, they should be available for tomorrow."

While the signs are positive there, United will be hampered by one-match suspensions for Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay that rule both out of the Villa Park game.

Villa have not won any of their last 22 home league games against United (D7 L15) since a 3-1 victory in August 1995. That ranks as the longest winless home run any side has had against another in English Football League and Premier League history, according to Opta.

However, Villa scored a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in September, with Bruno Fernandes missing a last-gasp penalty, and will be attempting to win consecutive league games against United for the first time since November 1976.

They last did the league double over the Red Devils in 1954-55. A United win would be their 300th away from home in the Premier League, making them the first side to reach that mark.

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