Erik ten Hag and all his Manchester United players will privately be hoping that Cristiano Ronaldo has his exit wish granted this summer, according to one observer.
The Red Devils superstar is looking to leave Old Trafford, just a year after his high-profile return to the club. His 24 goals in 38 games were not enough to prevent the club labouring to a sixth-placed finish. And the fact the club now finds themselves in the Europa League and not the Champions League has seemingly had a major bearing on his decision.
As such, his agent Jorge Mendes has been charged with finding the veteran frontman a new club. That said, potential suitors have been falling by the wayside. Indeed, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon have all distanced themselves from the player.
With still a month left, there remains time for Ronaldo to still get his dream move away. However, with the new season getting underway on Friday night – Man Utd’s opening match comes on Sunday against Brighton – he looks set to start the season at least at Old Trafford.
To that end, Erik ten Hag has spoken out on the player’s lack of sharpness. Citing personal reasons, Ronaldo opted to miss the pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.
But in doing so, he was denied vital match practice – and now appears to be behind many of his teammates.
Ten Hag, though, has done his best to reassure the player he can play his part.
Speaking about his long-term plans for Ronaldo, he insists he can still enjoy a good season.
Cristiano Ronaldo future remains uncertain
“I think he can [fit in],” Ten Hag said. “It starts with… he has to get fit. He’s just started.
“He’s a fantastic football player, he’s proved that so many times, but you are always judged on what you are now, what you are presenting now, performing now.
“The team, and Cristiano himself, has to prove it.”
While that is the public approach from Ten Hag, the United manager – and all the club’s players – will secretly be hoping he leaves.
That’s according to Jamie Carragher, who has questioned United’s decision to even sign him in the first place.
“I always thought he was a bizarre signing,” Carragher told the Overlap. “I always felt this situation would come, even if Ronaldo did great.
“He signed a two-year deal plus another year, which I couldn’t believe. He’s never going to play second fiddle to anyone but as players at a certain stage in your career we all know that you’re not the same player. And his career has gone on longer because he’s such a great professional.
“But the fact he’s now 37, 38 this season, he’s not the same player. He’s still a great goalscorer but he’s not the same player.
“No other club in Europe at this moment wants him, I might be wrong. But it doesn’t look like United can get him out, so at the moment other club don’t want him.
“And I think if you asked Ten Hag, I don’t think he wants him. And I’m not quite sure the dressing room at Manchester United would want Cristiano Ronaldo right now.”
Situation a real problem for Man Utd
United will need this situation resolved quickly, one way or another.
Sadly, benching the player for the Premier League opener is unlikely to go down well with Ronaldo too. Indeed, the last time such a course of action happened – in March’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester City – Ronaldo developed a mystery injury and missed the game.
As such, the situation may well get worse before it gets better.
It would, however, reflect badly on Ronaldo were he to do the same trick again. As a professional footballer, his first duty is to play football for the club who pays him so handsomely: Manchester United.
Should Manchester United keep Cristiano Ronaldo?
Do Manchester United need Cristiano Ronaldo next season?
But if the club really want him gone, then a solution will be needed quickly.
The player will go down as one of the greatest of all time. His incredible achievements, both personally, and a club level ensure that.
However, this current situation is not good for all concerned and the sooner a resolution is made the better.