Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has shifted his stance and is now open to selling Cristiano Ronaldo, The Times’ Duncan Castles, Paul Hirst and Charlotte Duncker report.
Ronaldo has started both of United’s Premier League games so far – a pair of disappointing defeats against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford – but there have been concerns amongst staff at Old Trafford about his behaviour around the squad, which were also reported by Jack Otway of The Express.
Erik ten Hag Open to Selling Cristiano Ronaldo
— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) August 15, 2022
Change of Thought
Despite the concerns around Ronaldo – which included him missing much of pre-season – Ten Hag had previously been happy to keep the Portuguese superstar.
Ronaldo was United’s top goalscorer last season and was seen to be a key part of Ten Hag’s squad going into this campaign.
However, after United struggled massively in their opening two games, losing at home to Brighton and going down 4-0 away at Brentford, it appears Ten Hag has had a change of heart.
The Athletic’s Adam Crafton reports that Ronaldo’s reintegration into the squad has been challenging. So much so that he often eats lunch alone, dissents in training and shows his feelings about Ten Hag’s high-pressing tactics.
Coaches were also unhappy that he did not acknowledge United’s travelling fans after the humiliating results against Brentford, which saw them concede four goals in the opening 35 minutes.
Ronaldo wants United to let him leave this summer, just a year into the two-year deal he signed after joining from Juventus.
Speaking on Sky Sports on Monday, former United player Gary Neville said: “There is a massive decision to make on Ronaldo. He is obviously not happy, the problem is if they lose him there is nothing left in the goalscoring part of the pitch. I genuinely think if he leaves and they don’t bring people in they could finish bottom half of the table.”
Despite the change of heart and the now apparent desire to let Ronaldo leave, Crafton’s report goes on to say that United have not had any approaches for the 37-year-old.
His desire is to play in the Champions League – something United missed out on by finishing sixth last season – and his representatives have tried to get him moves to Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
Having started their first two games of the season, Ronaldo’s departure would leave an obvious gap up front. They have, in recent days, been linked with a move for Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, although a move for former West Ham United and Stoke City striker Marko Arnautovic was rejected by current club Bologna.