Manchester United are willing to listen to offers for Cristiano Ronaldo this summer, Sky Sports News understands.
But United’s public stance is, and has consistently been, that Ronaldo is not for sale following his failure to turn up for pre-season training for four days in a row. He has cited family reasons, an explanation the club accepts.
The final decision will lie with Ronaldo, leaving the door open for him to change his mind and stay at Old Trafford.
Sky Sports News has been told Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has spent the past few weeks selling the ‘Cristiano effect’ to clubs having compiled a dossier of his client’s immense sponsorship, social media and ‘new markets’ influence.
Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly is among the executives to listen to the pitch and is considering a move, with the Blues having also discussed a move for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.
However, Chelsea are concentrating on deals for Raheem Sterling and Raphinha, with the club only signing players head coach Thomas Tuchel wants.
Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Napoli have also been engaged with Mendes.
The 37-year-old has not reported back to training at Carrington, citing family reasons, which the club has accepted.
Ronaldo’s absence comes amid informing United that he wants to leave Old Trafford this summer if a suitable offer arrives.
Ronaldo was due to re-join his team-mates on Monday, but has instead been keeping fit at Portugal’s training base – Cidade do Futebol – for the past few days.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes Ronaldo’s United future cannot become a “saga” this summer.
The Sky Sports pundit tweeted on Monday: “The only important factor with the Ronaldo situation is that it’s dealt with decisively and quickly. This can’t be a saga that takes the focus away from ETH bedding in period for the next two months.”
Ronaldo is understood to be concerned at United’s transfer activity this summer, but on Tuesday the club announced Ten Hag’s first signing with the arrival of Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia.
Malacia could soon be followed by the arrival of Christian Eriksen after the Denmark international agreed in principle to join United on a free transfer.
A basic agreement is in place with Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong, while advanced negotiations continue for Lisandro Martinez.
Talks have also taken place with Ajax for forward Antony, but new boss Alfred Schreuder indicated: “He has a contract until 2025. I want to work with him, and the club knows this.”
Ten Hag will have to expand his attacking targets if Ronaldo does exit with the club already concerned by their lack of goalscoring threat heading into the new campaign.
Ronaldo scored 24 times across all competitions last term, but United recorded their lowest-ever Premier League points tally.
United begin their pre-season schedule against Liverpool in Bangkok next Tuesday, before friendlies with Melbourne City, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in Australia.
Analysis: Ronaldo’s actions leave Man Utd in the lurch
Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:
The timing of Ronaldo’s desire to move on being made public has left United in the lurch, just a week before they jet off for their pre-season tour. Manchester City and Liverpool moved swiftly to wrap up deals for two of the best young strikers in Europe, while United planned for life with the Portuguese.
It begs the question: should United have been better prepared for this scenario?
Erik ten Hag is now scrambling to reconfigure his attacking line. As things stand he is largely relying on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial for goals, neither of whom have played well for 12 months nor consistently convinced in a central role. These are the same two forwards Louis van Gaal found himself entrusting in the latter stages of his final season at Old Trafford six years ago.
There is still almost two months for United to dip into the transfer market and come up with a solution to their striker problem. However another underwhelming start to the window has left fans fretting about the club’s effectiveness in negotiations. Even if this new-look transfer team led by John Murtough will get their act together, rival clubs will smell the desperation at United and hike up the price when they come calling for a striker.
Ronaldo’s exit, while potentially destabilizing in the short-term, does present United and Ten Hag with the opportunity to assemble a fluid forward line – something which had worked well in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s penultimate season in charge. The campaign before Ronaldo arrived, United scored 73 goals in the Premier League – 16 more than they did with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. It’s a trend which has followed him from Juventus, where his arrival also led to a decline in goals scored.
Ten Hag used Dusan Tadic as a false nine to great effect at Ajax in the 2018/19 season as they reached the Champions League semi-final. The new United boss was also successful when using Sebastian Haller, a more conventional No 9, last season as Ajax won a third Eredivise title in four years under Ten Hag. If the former West Ham striker hadn’t sealed a move to Borussia Dortmund, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to see United attempt to replace Ronaldo with Haller based on Ten Hag’s preference to work with players he has a familiarity with.
Irrespective of which camp you are in with regard to Ronaldo, it is undeniable that United need to bolster their attacking options and fast. Ajax forward Antony is a target and would fill a void on the right wing, but even his arrival would leave a gaping hole at centre-forward. Whether the club will be able to find Ten Hag’s ideal target under these circumstances remains to be seen, which potentially leaves United spending another season with a stop-gap striker. They’ll hope not another Odion Ighalo.
The Ronaldo dilemma: Was he to blame?
Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:
Cristiano Ronaldo was named Premier League player of the month for April. He’d scored five goals in four games, including a hat-trick. But during that month, Manchester United won just one match out of six.
Ronaldo was also named in the Premier League team of the year. United ended the season with back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Crystal Palace. Sixth and trophyless. It was their worst league performance in 32 years.
While his team floundered, Ronaldo – at 37, we shouldn’t forget – still found a way to make his mark.
The individual and the collective. That’s the Ronaldo dilemma.
Read the full feature here
Merson Says: Ronaldo ticks the box for Chelsea
In his latest Sky Sports column, Paul Merson delivers his verdict on Chelsea potentially signing Cristiano Ronaldo:
“It’s a bit disappointing in the way that you hear the news that he wants to play in the Champions League. It’s been clear Man Utd won’t be in the Champions League for a long time. I don’t know why this wasn’t t nipped in the bud early doors. It’s had to drag on this long. I’d be a bit disappointed if I was a Man Utd fan.
“It’s hard to get centre-forwards who can score goals, especially in the best and hardest league in the world. So if Ronaldo did move on, Man Utd haven’t really got a replacement to take his place as a proven goalscorer who is going to get you 15 to 20 goals. So they’d have to go and search for someone.”
Man Utd fixtures: Ten Hag debut against Brighton on Sky
Erik ten Hag’s first Premier League game as Manchester United manager will be against Brighton at Old Trafford, live on Sky Sportson the opening Super Sunday of the 2022/23 season.
After facing Graham Potter’s Seagulls on Sunday August 7, live on Sky Sports, United travel to Brentford in the second round of fixtures before hosting rivals Liverpool in a blockbuster early-season clash on the weekend of August 20.
United’s trip to the Etihad Stadium for the first Manchester derby of the season on October 1 kicks off a daunting month which sees Ten Hag’s side travel to Everton and Chelsea and host Tottenham, Newcastle and West Ham.
The final game before the season breaks for the winter World Cup will be against Fulham on the weekend of November 12/13. United then return to action on Boxing Day at Fulham.
2023 will be ushered in by a home match against promoted Bournemouth. Premier League champions Manchester City are next up at Old Trafford on January 14, the return trip to Anfield on March 4, while United conclude their season at home to Fulham on May 28.
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