Cristiano Ronaldo is a long way behind the rest of the Manchester United squad in terms of fitness, Erik ten Hag said, with games needed to get the forward up to speed.
Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes held meetings with United at Carrington on Tuesday, but his position remains unchanged and he wants to play for a club in the Champions League and win major trophies.
United do not want him to go, however. The Portugal international, who has a year left on his United deal, did not join the squad for their pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia and was not included in the squad for Saturday’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Atletico Madrid in Oslo.
He suggested on Instagram he would feature in United’s final pre-season friendly match against Rayo at Old Trafford, saying: “Sunday, the King plays”.
“Tomorrow he will be in the squad,” Ten Hag told Viaplay after his side’s loss. “We’ll see how long he can play,”
“I cannot tell in this moment (how fit he is). He is not on the level of the rest of the squad because he missed a lot of weeks. But he needs games and he needs training, a lot.”
His potential options elsewhere are limited. Chelsea are not an option anymore, while Bayern Munich and Atletico appeared to publicly rule themselves out this week.
Atletico fans displayed a banner stating ‘CR7 not welcome’ at a pre-season friendly on Wednesday.
Has Ronaldo run out of options?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“As we’ve seen on Instagram, Ronaldo has been keeping fit, so there are no concerns from Manchester United over his fitness or physical level; he’s one of the fittest players in world football.
“Ultimately, Ronaldo did state his desire to leave Old Trafford, but he’s running out of options, and it seems like he’s actually going to have to stay. Perhaps he will try and swing it where the 25 per cent pay cut in his contract will be waived away by United, perhaps he wants to manoeuvre and muscle a new deal, we’ll have to wait and see. But it doesn’t look like Stamford Bridge is on his cards.
“Chelsea have distanced themselves from a deal for Ronaldo, as have Bayern Munich, Napoli and a lot of other elite clubs that Jorge Mendes, who is Ronaldo’s agent, has tried to sell him to.
“An offer from Saudi Arabia is astronomical but ultimately, it does not give Cristiano Ronaldo what he wants, which is that legacy. He wants to achieve Champions League records that he thinks no one else will be able to attain in the future.
“He wants to sign off at the absolute highest level. Now, it looks increasingly like he will have to stay at Manchester United because there are no biters from the big clubs.”
United not giving up on De Jong | Open to Bailly offers
United are not giving up on the signing of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, and are comfortable with the broad agreement they have with Barcelona – worth £72m including add-ons.
The club will have their own deadline to get a deal done before activating moves for other targets. Sky Sports News has been told United are keeping alternatives “warm” should a deal for De Jong fail to materialise.
United have also been interested in Ajax forward Antony in this transfer window but not at the price Ajax want.
The club are open to offers for defenders Eric Bailly and Alex Telles.
There has been interest from Fulham, Trabzonspor and from Serie A for Bailly. United would prefer a sale or at least a loan with an obligation to buy.
Telles’ game time will be further limited next season following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, but there are no concrete offers yet.
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