Date: 12th January 2022 at 2:51pm
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Manchester United’s reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo’s attacking output was once again reiterated on Monday evening, as the Red Devils limped to a narrow 1-0 victory over Aston Villa without their talismanic striker.

Ralf Rangnick’s side were far from at their best during the FA Cup third round tie, and arguably deserved to exit the competition at the hands of a Villa side who had two goals ruled out.

The likes of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood both struggled to impress during the game at Old Trafford, and United relied on an early strike from in-form midfielder Scott McTominay to ensure their progression and set up a fourth round tie at home to Middlesbrough.

United’s poor performance without Ronaldo will worry Rangnick and United fans alike, with the Portuguese scoring eight of the club’s 30 league goals so far, as well as six out of the ten Champions League goals they have managed with him on the pitch.

The club’s position is made worse by Jadon Sancho’s poor form since returning to Manchester, as well as the performances of out-of-favour Anthony Martial, who looks set to leave the club this month.

With that in mind, it appears that United could move for an attacker this month, and one of their prime targets has been made available.

Dembele’s time in Barcelona will come to an end when his contract expires this summer

As per Sky Sports, Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele will be available on a free transfer in the summer, despite forking out £126 million for the Frenchman less than five years ago.

Spanish journalist Alvaro Montero told the outlet that the forward is likely to be made available on a free when his contract expires in the summer, meaning that Barcelona will make no attempt either to sell the player this month, or extend his stay in Catalunya.

The former Rennes star looked set to become one of the world’s best players when he moved to La Liga from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but his time in Spain has been plagued by injuries and he will leave the country in search of an opportunity to resurrect his career.

The 24-year-old has played just 128 times during his time with Barca, scoring only 31 goals.

As per current rules, Dembele will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with any club outside of Spain this month.

The news will be welcomed by fans of United, however, as the Red Devils have been heavily linked with the winger in recent months.

Both Chelsea and Liverpool have also been credited with an interest in the player, who would reunite with former manager Thomas Tuchel if he joined the Blues.

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