Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been warned that his reign may prove a failure if he is unable to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford before the transfer window closes.
The Portuguese superstar is reportedly desperate to leave Old Trafford after a bleak first season back at the club. With the club labouring to a sixth-placed finish last time out, United face playing Europa League football this upcoming season. And it’s widely claimed that Ronaldo – the Champions League’s record goalscorer – feels the competition is below him.
As such, efforts to secure him a move elsewhere has seen Ronaldo linked with several clubs. Of those, the strongest links have perhaps been with Atletico Madrid, amid talk of a swap deal with Antoine Griezmann.
However, after much debate in the media, Ronaldo is now back in training with United. And a crucial meeting with Ten Hag on Tuesday may have done the trick, with the self-proclaimed King returning for Sunday’s friendly with Rayo Vallecano.
That raises hopes that Ronaldo may stay beyond the closure of the transfer window.
However, there are those who do remain scepital and believe Ronaldo is driven by personal ambition.
As a result, speculation on his future is likely to continue swirling over the 37-year-old.
His important to Ten Hag is obvious. Given Ronaldo was confortably the club’s top scorer last season with 24 goals, it would leave United with a glaring hole in their side.
Furthermore, with United’s budget not really allowing for a striker signing, Ten Hag will be desperately hoping his talisman stays put.
Now Ronaldo has been warned to put his team’s success ahead of his own for the first time in his career.
Cristiano Ronaldo told he can be Ten Hag’s new leader
The demand comes from talkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino, who reckons Ronaldo needs to drop the selfish act for the good of United.
“Ronaldo’s role is not just about getting more goals in the Champions League. Yeah great, brilliant,” Cascarino began.
“So your whole goal in your life is to break records? Now he’s at the stage of his career now where the club he’s at is trying to reignite itself and it needs a leader.
“He must be that leader on the football pitch, for them as a team to try and galvanise something. If Ronaldo thinks it’s only about his goals, he’ll achieve his goals but the club will still fail.”
The saga advice comes amid Ten Hag’s words in the media in which he has made clear he wants to build his side around Ronaldo.
And Cascarino admits that he should use that as motivation, rather than as a reason to walk away.
“When the manager comes and he wants to build a team around you for this season, and be wanted, that’s a great place to be for a player. Having a manager give you his full backing.
“Now the disappointment for Ronaldo from my perspective is that he signed a two-year deal. If you wanted to come to Man United, you sign a one-year deal and you go after one year.
“You don’t need to go and rock the boat. What I’d say to Ronaldo is, for the first time in your life, think about your club, your team.
“The club and fanbase has been unbelievable to you, and you’ve played brilliantly for them.
Only one way star can silence doubters
“You’ve done so well that they’ve loved you from the minute you arrived and every breath you took on that football pitch, and when you came back they adored you, and still do.
“But he’s whittling away at that now, though, because there must be an element of Manchester United fans who have been peed off with his non-commitment to the football club.”
The absence from the Champions League obviously bothers Ronaldo. Given he holds the record for most goals (140), most appearances (183) and mos assists (42), it is easy to see why he wants to build on that.
At 37 too, you would expect him to not have too many years left. However, Ronaldo is a rare breed of athlete, who can carry on playing at the top level for a good few seasons yet.
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As such, his focus must surely be on staying at United and ensuring their Champions League absence is just for one season only.
And if Ten Hag, with Ronaldo in the side, accomplish their first-season mission, then Ronaldo will be back in the Champions League in 2023.
There will be an element of supporters, though, who won’t like the current noise around the player.
And the only way Cristiano Ronaldo can silence those doubters is on the pitch by scoring goals and proving his commitment to the cause.