Cristiano Ronaldo continues to face a crossroads with Manchester United as he still seeks a move away from the club, and would reportedly accept terminating the final year of his contract and becoming a free agent.
United are maintaining their stance that the Portuguese international is not for sale, whilst his agent is actively working on finding a potential suitor for Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo Desperate to Leave This Window – Informed Manchester United at Start of Summer
He Did Not Join the Squad on Their Pre-Season Tour
According to Jason Burt of The Telegraph: “There is now a sense that the 37-year-old is hoping that the club might be prepared to tear up the final year of his contract and allow him to become a free agent.”
The saga began at the beginning of July when Ronaldo confirmed to the club his desire to leave and asked that they consider any suitable bids that are made for him. He then missed United’s entire pre-season tour due to family matters and reunited with the squad at the end of the month.
Fans Grow Tired of Ronaldo’s Antics
He played his first pre-season friendly on July 31 against Rayo Vallecano, offering little on the pitch in the 45 minutes he played. Ronaldo, amongst others, then came under fire by supporters and even Erik ten Hag for being spotted leaving Old Trafford prior to the full-time whistle being blown.
The 37-year-old’s lack of preparation and fitness kept him out of the first 50 minutes of United’s opening fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion. When he was eventually substituted on, the team were already 2-0 down and failed to take any points from the game despite a Brighton own goal in the second half.
“I deal with the players we have and we plan with him [Ronaldo] for this season and we have to fit him into the team”. pic.twitter.com/VKu06NFoQy
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 12, 2022
United’s Disastrous Start to the Season
Starting the season with a loss is never beneficial to any squad, but Erik ten Hag’s side did not react accordingly; they went on to lose 4-0 away to Brentford, conceding all four goals in 35 minutes and consequently finishing the match week rock bottom of the Premier League in 20th place. Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes.
The Portugal captain faced more backlash when he appeared to refuse to go over to the travelling fans at the Gtech Community Stadium. Many had made a four-hour trip to watch their team get beaten 4-0, without any acknowledgement or thanks by the first team that had provided almost nothing on the pitch, struggling to even maintain possession or string an attack together.
Ronaldo’s return to United filled fans with nostalgia and hope and possibly alerted rival fans to take the Red Devils seriously, with the arrival of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Almost a year on, it’s hard to see how the move positively benefited either the club or the player, as both parties are left in turmoil.
Champions League Priority for Competition’s Top Scorer
The forward is adamant about spending the remaining years of his career playing at the highest level in Europe – the Champions League. He currently stands as the all-time top goalscorer in the competition with 140 goals but is likely worried a season away could lead to another player dismantling his top spot.
Lionel Messi, who sits in second position with 125 goals, will be keen to play catch-up this season as he’ll play in Europe with Paris Saint-Germain on their quest for the team’s first Champions League trophy.
Ronaldo is yet to find a club willing to take him, after already being in contact with Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Napoli. Ten Hag will need to find a forward replacement should Ronaldo depart this summer as they are already considerably light in the position.