Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Cristiano Ronaldo absent from return to pre-season, as Manchester United put on brave face

Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd, in action during the Premier League match v Brighton at AMEX Stadium

Cristiano Ronaldo was absent from Manchester United training on Monday with the club understood to be content with his reasoning.

Ronaldo was expected to report back for pre-season training at Carrington on Monday but due to “family reasons” his return will be delayed.

The squad returned at the start of last week with just Manchester United’s international contingent given extra time off.

The Manchester Evening News have quoted a senior club source: “Cristiano is not expected due to family reasons and the club have accepted this.”

It is unclear when the forward is expected back at the club.

A report from The Times on Saturday claimed the 37-year-old wants to leave Old Trafford. The striker’s decision is largely driven by his desire to carry on playing in the Champions League after the Red Devils failed to qualify for the competition last term.

Ronaldo is also said to have grown frustrated at what he sees as a lack of ambition with no new signings. To make matters worse Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have all added top-level players. While Chelsea are planning a summer of investment under new owner Todd Boehly.

And Chelsea have been named as potential suitors by Fabrizio Romano.

There has been direct contact between Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes and Boehly last month. And The Athletic, also reported the idea of Chelsea targeting Ronaldo has been discussed.

Chelsea prefer Sterling to Ronaldo

That news emerged before reports of Ronaldo’s unrest. But Boehly and Thomas Tuchel are understood to be prioritising a move for Raheem Sterling instead.

As for United, there position on Ronaldo remains the same. Erik ten Hag is happy to keep the veteran and Ronaldo is not against the Dutch coach. He is just desperate to remain at the top level and wants Champions League football.

Ronaldo has a year remaining on his contract and United insist he is not for sale.

However, if the Portuguese star pushes for a move they will not be in any position to keep hold of him. With Mendes pulling the strings behind the scenes Ronaldo will no doubt by granted a move if he so wishes.

United paid €15m (£12.9m) to Juventus last summer with a further €8m (£6.9m) in add-ons due. Ronaldo penned a two-year deal with an option of another 12 months.