Erik ten Hag says Cristiano Ronaldo is part of his plans, but the new Manchester United manager has yet to decide if Harry Maguire will remain captain next season.
Former Ajax boss Ten Hag was appointed as Ralf Rangnick’s successor last month on an initial three-year deal and officially started work at Old Trafford on Monday.
Ten Hag takes over on the back of United’s worst ever Premier League season in terms of points, with 2021-22 their fifth successive campaign without any silverware.
The Dutchman has a number of pressing issues to deal with, not least Ronaldo’s future and the wider debate over who should skipper United.
Ronaldo scored 24 goals in 38 appearances for United in his first season back at the club, which is 13 goals more than next-best Bruno Fernandes.
Indeed, aside from Ronaldo and Fernandes, no other United player made it into double figures for the campaign in all competitions.
Despite netting some vital goals for the Red Devils, Ronaldo’s place in the side has been questioned due to his work off the ball.
But asked at his unveiling news conference whether the Portugal international has a part to play under him next season, Ten Hag responded: “Of course”.
Probed on what he expects Ronaldo to bring to the side, Ten Hag simply replied: “Goals”.
Ronaldo captained United at times this term when regular skipper Maguire was absent, with some questioning whether the defender should hand over the armband permanently.
Rangnick previously suggested it should be down to the players to vote on who captains United from next season, though Ten Hag is expected to have the final say.
The 52-year-old, who guided Ajax to three Eredivisie titles in his four full seasons in charge, gave little away when commenting on the situation on Monday.
“Next season is a different season,” he said. “Harry’s done a good job and he’s a great player.
“He’s achieved a lot and has contributed a lot to Manchester United, so I’m looking forward to working with him.”
While Ronaldo and Maguire look set to play a part in United’s latest new chapter, Ten Hag is expected to oversee a big overhaul in the coming transfer window.
“I’m still in the process of analysing, to set conclusions,” Ten Hag said of United’s transfer business.
“But I’m looking forward to working with the players I have. The season before, this squad was second in the league, so there is huge potential.
“I think if we improve, if we work with them, I think we can get out more than what was the result from this season.”