Ruud van Nistelrooy key player for Man United

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> With the departure of David Beckham, Manchester United needs prolific Dutch scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy more than ever.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Manchester United needs Ruud van Nistelrooy more than ever. With the departure of David Beckham, the prolific Dutch scorer is now the club's star player – a role he wants to keep strictly on the pitch. Last season, Van Nistelrooy's late flurry of goals took his tally to 44 – earning him the Golden Boot Award and the League's Player of the Year – and lifted the club to its eighth premiership title in 11 years. The departure of midfielders Beckham to Real Madrid and Juan Sebastian Veron to Chelsea will make Van Nistelrooy an even bigger name at United – if he can adjust to life without two of his key providers. "We're doing well. We have players to cover that position," Van Nistelrooy said. "We have to move on. We have to make sure we're going to create other opportunities to come from the right side. I don't have any fear it can't happen". Manager Alex Ferguson is also keen for Van Nistelrooy's stay at Old Trafford to be a long one. "I want Ruud to stay with us for the next six years," he said. "He's only been with us for two seasons, but he's been phenomenal in that time. I'd put Ruud up there with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Raul and Ronaldinho. He is in that collection of the best players in the world without a doubt," Ferguson added. (AP)