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Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 15:22 UK

Who can replace Ronaldo?

Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Arjen Robben

By Sam Lyon

Cristiano Ronaldo's proposed £80m transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid not only promises to rewrite the record books, but also potentially spark a buying frenzy from the Old Trafford giants that has not been seen for many a year.

While the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov have all moved for substantial fees in recent years, rarely has manager Sir Alex Ferguson had the opportunity - or desire - to bring in a collection of big-money signings in one transfer window.

The loss of one of the world's greatest players has prompted a mixed reaction among United fans - some bemoaning the departure of a player that has spearheaded the club's haul of nine trophies in three seasons, others happy to take the money for an unhappy player.

However one looks at it, though, United have a big gap to fill - and a huge sum of money with which to fill it.

Here, BBC Sport looks at some of the players who could be tasked with filling the void created by Ronaldo's switch to the Bernabeu.

Antonio Valencia

Name: Antonio Valencia
Age: 23
Position: Winger
Potential cost: £16m
Club: Wigan Athletic

Long linked with a switch to Old Trafford, Antonio Valencia would appear to be an obvious like-for-like replacement for Ronaldo.

Aged 23, just a year younger than the Portugal international, Valencia has impressed during his three years at Wigan with his pace and trickery, though a return of just seven goals in 83 appearances suggest he lacks Ronaldo's prolificacy in front of goal.

Valencia is widely expected to leave Wigan this summer, and Latics chairman Dave Whelan admits: "Sir Alex Ferguson had him watched in every game last season and he holds Antonio in high regard. There is no question he is interested."

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Franck Ribery

Name: Franck Ribery
Age: 26
Position: Winger
Potential cost: £30m
Club: Bayern Munich

The France winger would not come cheap, but he would bring to Old Trafford a proven ability to perform on the biggest stages.

With 37 caps and seven goals at international level, Ribery shook off a turbulent start to his career - when he represented five clubs in five years aged 17-22 - to become one of Europe's most consistent performers at club level.

Two impressive years at Marseille preceded a 25m euro move to Bayern Munich and his most productive years, with 20 goals in 53 appearances.

Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer has admitted Ribery could be sold if he does not extend his current deal at the Allianz Arena, but Manchester United sources have hinted the fee, combined with Ribery's age, could put Ferguson off making a bid.

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Karim Benzema

Name: Karim Benzema
Age: 21
Position: Striker
Potential cost: £25m
Club: Lyon

Although not a direct replacement for Ronaldo, Lyon forward Karim Benzema could at least go some way to replacing one facet of Ronaldo's game that proved so valuable to United in recent years - goals.

Ronaldo's haul of 71 goals in the past two seasons underlines the goal presence United will be missing, and Benzema comes with a lofty reputation to match his price tag.

The 6ft frontman has scored 43 goals in 112 appearances for Lyon - and would also bring a familiarity with a three-man frontline often favoured by Ferguson, having played across the front three in Lyon's 4-3-3 formation this season.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has insisted Benzema will not leave the club before the 2010 World Cup, but money talks in football - as United know only too well.

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Sergio Aguero

Name: Sergio Aguero
Age: 21
Position: Forward
Potential cost: £45m
Club: Atletico Madrid

Another option if Ferguson is looking for a young, lethal forward, is Atletico Madrid's crown jewel Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine earned a move, aged just 17, to Atletico on the back of 23 goals in 54 appearances for Independiente and has followed that up with 42 goals in 112 appearances in Spain.

Now a regular member of the Argentina national squad, Aguero has been cutting his teeth alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano - and impressing all with his ability to create as well as score goals.

However, the darling of Madrid would not be cheap. Reports suggest it could take as much as £45m to lure him, while he will demand wages of over £11m a year AFTER tax.

Too much to risk on a youngster still unproven in the Premier League, or a chance worth taking? Ferguson may feel he has safer bets in the pipeline...

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Arjen Robben

Name: Arjen Robben
Age: 25
Position: Winger
Potential cost: £20m
Club: Real Madrid

The purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo, allied to that of Brazilian playmaker Kaka, has left Real Madrid with an abundance of attacking talent - and many expect something akin to a firesale at the Bernabeu as a result.

And Manchester United could do worse than consider the mercurial Arjen Robben, equal parts inspirational and frustrating during his time at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007.

When not on the injury table - an occurrence all too frequent for the Dutchman's liking - the 25-year-old has proven pacy, skilful and with an eye for a goal and a pass.

Whether Real would be willing to sell, and whether Ferguson would consider buying a player deemed surplus to requirements by Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese's time at Chelsea, remain to be seen.

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David Silva

Name: David Silva
Age: 23
Position: Winger
Potential cost: £18m
Club: Valencia

An arguably less recognisable name, David Silva nonetheless has all the attributes Sir Alex Ferguson might be looking for in a forward.

The 23-year-old can play on either wing, or behind the frontman, and has developed into a key member of the Spain squad that won Euro 2008 and is ranked number one in the world.

Silva penned a new seven-year deal with Valencia last summer that ties him to Los Che until 2013, but the cash-strapped club could be forced to sell him.

There would also be the added bonus that Silva has long been a target of Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez - and wouldn't Ferguson just love getting one over on his Premier League rival?

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Aaron Lennon

Name: Aaron Lennon
Age: 22
Position: Winger
Potential cost: £18m
Club: Tottenham

Although not yet the finished product, Aaron Lennon could provide an interesting option for United.

The winger is young, fast, increasingly effective going forward, and tore strips off left-back Patrice Evra time and again in the Carling Cup final at Wembley in February.

With Spurs boss Harry Redknapp reportedly keen to conduct a huge clearout at Tottenham, the ol' wheeler-dealer might be willing to accept a big-money offer in order to fund his rebuilding job at White Hart Lane.

However, Lennon was arguably Tottenham's player of the season last year and, having only penned a new contract this season, appears settled and keen to play a part in the London club's revival under Redknapp.

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Carlos Tevez

Name: Carlos Tevez
Age: 25
Position: Forward
Potential cost: £25m
Club: Unattached

What list of potential replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo would be complete without the name of fans' favourite Carlos Tevez?

The Argentine has forged a sensational rapport with the United supporters with his full-throttle displays and knack of scoring important goals, and the Old Trafford faithful would love nothing more than to welcome him back to the club next season.

Although frustrated by a lack of starts in the 2008-2009 campaign, Cristiano Ronaldo's departure would surely make Tevez a key attacking force for United next season.

And the fact he is familiar with the way Ferguson - and the likes of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov - works, would ensure a smooth transition from loan star to big-money buy.

However, reports suggest ties between Tevez and the club have already been severed. Ferguson's apparent reluctance to pay the £25m being asked for by Tevez's representatives to make his stay at Old Trafford permanent has upset a player with no shortage of suitors.

One such admirer is United's local rivals Manchester City and it is thought negotiations to take Tevez across the city are already well under way.

Now flush with cash, is it too late for United to snatch Tevez back from under the noses of the blue half of Manchester?

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see also
Friday's gossip column
12 Jun 09 |  Gossip
Ronaldo confident of Real switch
12 Jun 09 |  Man Utd
Man Utd accept 80m Ronaldo bid
11 Jun 09 |  Man Utd
Hughes expects big transfer spree
11 Jun 09 |  Football
Reaction to Real's Ronaldo offer
11 Jun 09 |  Man Utd
History of the world transfer record
11 Jun 09 |  Football
How can Real Madrid afford Ronaldo?
11 Jun 09 |  Business
Ronaldo's career in photos
11 Jun 09 |  Football
Kaka completes Real Madrid switch
09 Jun 09 |  Europe


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