- Portuguese superstar released as free agent
- Dutch forward drafted in on loan
- Offers a different kind of threat
WHAT HAPPENED? The Red Devils found themselves short in the striking department following the sudden departure of Portuguese superstar Ronaldo in November 2022, with the decision taken to terminate his lucrative contract and release him as a free agent. Filling the void left behind by a five-time Ballon d’Or winner was never going to be easy, but Netherlands international Weghorst has been charged with that task after completing a surprise switch from Burnley on a short-term agreement.
WHAT THEY SAID: Weghorst has netted once through three appearances, in a Carabao Cup semi-final clash with Nottingham Forest, and Parker believes the 30-year-old frontman will ultimately silence those who have been quick to write him off as an unworthy successor to Ronaldo. The former United defender has told Soccernews: “I think that people have been too harsh towards Wout Weghorst. He has only played three games and it's way too early to judge him. But it is Man United and you are going to be judged. Every single player is under a massive pressure and they have to handle that 24 hours a day. And people have to remember that he is not a Ronaldo. Ronaldo was a better footballer but this guy is offering something different. He works hard and he wants to help the club. But all the Ronaldo fanboys are just throwing mud at the idiom, which is a disgrace. They should want the club to have success and not only think about their hero who has a new life in a league that only his fans care about.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Parker is eager to point out that Weghorst needs time in which to get fully up to speed having spent the first half of the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Besiktas in the “graveyard league” of the Turkish top flight. Parker, who won two Premier League titles with United, added: “Also, remember that Weghorst needs to adapt to playing in England again. He just arrived here from the European China, which is what Turkey is in terms of football. The Turkish league is a graveyard league where players go if they want to have a vacation or earn money.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT? Weghorst is now up and running as a United player, as he provides competition to France international No.9 Anthony Martial, and will be eager to get more minutes under his belt when the Red Devils play host to Reading in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.