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Man Utd are not a stronger team without Cristiano Ronaldo, says Rio Ferdinand

Cristiano Ronaldo reached 18 goals for the season on Saturday and Rio Ferdinand insisted Manchester United cannot do without the forward.

Man Utd are not a stronger team without Cristiano Ronaldo, says Rio Ferdinand
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Manchester United are not a stronger team without Cristiano Ronaldo and cannot think about discarding the forward, according to Rio Ferdinand.

Ronaldo brought an emphatic end to a barren run in front of goal with a hat-trick in Saturday's 3-2 Premier League win over Tottenham at Old Trafford.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner had just one goal and no assists in his previous 10 games for United in all competitions prior to his impressive treble.

That led to questions whether the Red Devils would be better off without Ronaldo in their side, with the Portugal international having been left out at times by Ralf Rangnick.

Ronaldo key for United

But after bagging his 49th hat-trick at club level, including at least one in 13 consecutive seasons, Ferdinand rejected claims his former team-mate weakens United in any way.

"Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Man United would not still be in the Champions League," Ferdinand told The Mirror.

"Are United a stronger team without him? I cannot agree with that at all. If he is not playing with Man United then they would have gone out in the group stage.

"A player with his ability and his talent, who is as decisive as he is, who has shown it over the years and this season that he can make the difference.

"Man United are not a team who are in the position to think, 'OK, we are too good to have someone like that in our team'."

United's leading scorer

Ronaldo has now found the net 18 times in 31 games since returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in August – double that of any other United player.

That includes 12 goals in the Premier League, making the 37-year-old the competition's joint-second highest scorer this term, albeit 12 goals behind runaway leader Mohamed Salah.

Commenting on Ronaldo's display against Tottenham, Rangnick said it was the best performance he has seen from the ex-Real Madrid player during his time in interim charge.

"At least since I arrived, his best performance," Rangnick said. "Not only because he scored three goals, two brilliant goals... he was also energetically good.

"He was part of the whole team when we had to defend, and we had to defend a lot. Top performance by him, but also by the rest of the team."