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5 superstar strikers Rangnick has worked with ahead of Ronaldo link-up

As Ralf Rangnick faces the challenge of keeping Cristiano Ronaldo happy at Manchester United, Mirror Football looks at five other star strikers who worked under him

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Rangnick ‘couldn’t possibly turn down’ Man Utd role

In agreeing to take over as Manchester United interim boss until the end of the season, Ralf Rangnick has taken on the biggest management job of his career.

The 63-year-old is an experienced head when it comes to German football, having coached Schalke and RB Leipzig twice, as well as Hoffenheim.

His time working as a sporting director has given him a different perspective on the game, operating as a club’s transfer chief. But now, after a brief spell at Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia, he is back in the dugout at Old Trafford to get his first taste of Premier League football.

One of his most challenging tasks as Man United head coach will be keeping Cristiano Ronaldo happy without compromising his long-standing footballing ideals.

The German generally favours a high-intensity pressing game and that requires some attributes that Ronaldo, at the age of 36, may no longer possess in his repertoire.

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Manchester United via Getty Imag)

The Portuguese star has made clear his desire to play whenever possible after he was dropped by sacked boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and caretaker manager Michael Carrick — showing Rangnick the difficult task he has to keep the veteran striker happy.

But his experience in working with high-profile strikers earlier in his career will inevitably help him manage Ronaldo at Old Trafford.

Mirror Football looks at six stars who worked under Rangnick and how they fared together…

Timo Werner

Timo Werner worked under Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig during the 2018-19 campaign

It was under Rangnick’s management at RB Leipzig that Timo Werner made his name as one of Europe’s most lethal marksmen.

The Germany international was signed as a 20-year-old from Stuttgart, a deal orchestrated by Rangnick, and the rest is history. In his four seasons with the Bundesliga outfit, he scored 95 goals in 159 appearances.

He only worked for one season with Rangnick as the coach in 2018-19, but spoke in glowing terms about the effect of his man-management skills in helping him focus on scoring goals.

“Both [Ralph Hasenhuttl and Rangnick] gave me the feeling I was not alone in this situation,” he told Chelsea’s official website.

“It allowed me to concentrate on my game and not worry about other things.”

Now at Chelsea, it is believed the 25-year-old could be set for a reunion with his former coach, as reports suggest Werner is on Rangnick’s shortlist of targets to sign during the January transfer window.

Have Your Say! Where will Manchester United finish under Ralf Rangnick? Comment below.

Raul

Raul was a regular feature under Ralf Rangnick at Schalke

After Raul made the shock decision to leave Real Madrid in 2010, Schalke snapped up the veteran forward on a free transfer back in 2010.

The Spaniard, 33 at the time, was signed by Rangnick’s predecessor Felix Magath before he took over in January 2011.

Under his management and a star-studded squad, Schalke reached the semi-finals of the Champions League before ironically losing to Manchester United.

At this point in his career, Raul wanted regular football and he got it, having been prioritised as a first-choice striker under Rangnick. He returned the favour, too, with 19 goals in the 2011-12 season.

Rangnick made the controversial decision to leave Raul out of his Champions League squad amid speculation that he wanted to return to Spain, although the legendary striker insisted there was “no problem” between the pair after clear-the-air talks.

A month later, Rangnick was sacked due to their poor domestic form and he later took up the role as Red Bull’s sporting director overseeing their Salzburg and Leipzig clubs.

Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino officially joined Hoffenheim a day before Rangnick’s departure

Rangnick was the man behind Hoffenheim’s ascent from the lower leagues to the top of the German pyramid, winning promotion to the Bundesliga in 2008.

One of the German’s most successful signings was to bring in a 19-year-old Roberto Firmino from Figueirense back in 2011, who had been spotted by the club’s sporting director Ernst Tanner.

But despite sanctioning the move, Rangnick actually left the club a day after Firmino’s arrival in Germany — resigning in protest over the decision to sell Luis Gustavo without his approval.

The striker then made his debut a month later and became a roaring success in four seasons at the club, most notably scoring 22 goals in the 2013-14 season.

Firmino later sealed a move to Liverpool in 2015 for £29m and the Brazilian has been a revelation for the Reds since, making over 300 appearances for the Merseyside outfit.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar formed a strike partnership with Raul under Ralf Rangnick

Along with Raul, Huntelaar formed the second half of the strike partnership that fired Schalke to the last four of the Champions League.

He arrived in 2010 like Raul but with lofty expectations after a stunning record playing for Ajax in the Eredivisie, costing the Bundesliga side £12m.

The Dutchman was not quite as prolific, scoring 11 times in 35 games, but went on to play a key role for Schalke in his six seasons at the club, averaging a goal every two games.

He was regarded as a key asset while Rangnick was in charge, with the German warding off interest from Liverpool during his short reign.

The very fact that Rangnick was happy to play with two strikers of a similar style of play to Ronaldo will be give the Portuguese star reason to believe he could be utilised in the same way.

Demba Ba

Demba Ba played a prominent role for Hoffenheim under Ralf Rangnick

Unlike Firmino, Demba Ba enjoyed several years playing under Rangnick after linking up with Hoffenhem in 2007 for £3m.

Back then, the Senegalese was only 22 and a virtual unknown after being plucked by Belgian side Mouscron. But after helping them gain promotion with 12 goals in his debut campaign, he became a regular feature in the side for Rangnick.

Ba remained with the German outfit up until January 2011, leaving shortly after Rangnick’s departure to join West Ham.

As a striker who would known what it is like to play under him, the former Chelsea striker is confident Ronaldo will fit into Rangnick’s plans at Old Trafford.

“I believe yes,” Ba told beIN Sports. “Rangnick has that intelligence to get the best out of the players.

“Also, I believe that he also has that intelligence to adapt to that squad he has, when he has it.”

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