Cristiano Ronaldo has reiterated his desire to leave Manchester United during meetings at the club’s Carrington training base, but officials continue to insist he is not for sale.
After talks, it’s believed that one of Ronaldo’s main goals wanting to leave is to spend the 2022-23 season at a Champions League club so he can cement his goalscoring record in the competition. He is currently leading with 140 goals – 15 ahead of Lionel Messi, who is two years younger. United are in the Europa League this season.
Ronaldo is also three goals behind Messi in the Champions League group stage goalscoring chart and overtaking his long-time rival on that metric is seen as a further goal. Winning trophies and family reasons are also major motivations.
Jorge Mendes is working to establish exit routes from Old Trafford, and Athleticism understands that talks have taken place with Sporting Lisbon. Ronaldo’s first professional club is in the Champions League after finishing second in the Primeira Liga.
Finding the funding for such a move – including covering his high salaries – would be complex and head coach Ruben Amorim is said to have reservations about integrating Ronaldo into his squad given the huge change in dynamics. which the 37-year-old would inevitably provoke.
Signing Ronaldo, however, brings clear business benefits as it opens up endless marketing opportunities on the world stage.
Atletico Madrid, United’s opponents in a friendly in Oslo on Saturday, are linked with an approach despite club chairman Enrique Cerezo calling a move “virtually impossible”. Hardcore fans also protested an offer.
Ronaldo is not expected to feature in the Norwegian capital, with an appearance the following day for Rayo Vallecano’s visit to Old Trafford meant to be more realistic.
Ronaldo has been keeping fit at Portugal’s Lisbon training base but is described as four weeks behind his team-mates in terms of physical and tactical preparation under Erik ten Hag.
On Tuesday, Ten Hag spoke to Ronaldo for the first time since he communicated his intentions and the United manager has always publicly stated how important the Portuguese centre-forward is to his team. But the situation threatens to overshadow Ten Hag’s preparations for the start of the Premier League, with the opener against Brighton 10 days away.
Ronaldo missed United’s pre-season tour after being granted leave for ‘personal reasons’. United were unsure of his exact movements and training intentions, however, until he rolled through the Carrington entrance with Mendes in the passenger seat on Tuesday morning.
He underwent medical examinations, including some work on the grass, but did not participate in the session alongside his teammates. He watched United take on Wrexham in a friendly at Carrington on Wednesday.
United are keen to keep Ronaldo. Anthony Martial would be the only recognized senior centre-forward should United sanction a sale.
Ten Hag says the team need to be strengthened in attack but a move for Antony is ruled out at this stage as Ajax place a €100m asking price on his head.
United have been in talks over Benjamin Sesko, the 19-year-old Red Bull Salzburg striker who scored against Liverpool on Wednesday, but a transfer is seen as complicated as the Austrians are unwilling to sell. Additionally, the Red Bull model often sees players move between their clubs, with RB Leipzig an obvious path if that position changes.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Ronaldo is finally back at United – but his future remains uncertain