Erik ten Hag has not spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo for “several weeks” but Manchester United are understood to be working hard to persuade the veteran striker to remain at Old Trafford.
The club’s stance has always been that the 37-year-old is not for sale. The former Juventus man did not return to pre-season training last week amid a “family issue”. It had emerged that Ronaldo has asked to leave the club in search of Champions League football.
He also failed to make the club’s pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.
Manchester United though insist the player is not for sale.
“I have read [that he wants to leave], but what I say is Cristiano is not for sale. He is in our plans and we want success together. I’m looking forward to working with him.
“He’s not with us due to a personal issue,” said Ten Hag, in Bangkok on Monday “I spoke with him before this issue came up, I had a good talk with him then. [What was said] is between Cristiano and me, but I can confirm we had a really good conversation together.”
Ronaldo does have one year left on the two-year deal he penned last summer.
Ronaldo camp ‘impressed’
There were suggestions that Ten Hag may be open to offloading Ronaldo before he arrived in May. But publicly Ten Hag has only indicated he would like to keep the striker. And, according to The Times, Richard Arnold is working hard to try and persuade the player’s camp to reverse his decision.
The United CEO “is understood to have impressed” Ronaldo’s representatives over his handling of the situation.
Arnold has been sympathetic to Ronaldo’s gripe, which revolves around a lack of Champions League football. The Portugal star is also believed to be worried by a lack of investment in the United squad.
While the source also claim Ronaldo has personal reasons to move on, after the tragic death of his son during childbirth in April.
Arnold did give Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes permission to look at alternative options. Talks with Todd Boehly at Chelsea and with Bayern Munich officials have taken place.
Frenkie de Jong the priority
American Boehly, who is Chelsea’s chairman, co-owner and sporting director, is apparently keen to push ahead with a move for Ronaldo. However, Thomas Tuchel is believed to be hesitant and recently said: “I will not tell you,” when asked whether he was signing Ronaldo.
As per the source, friends claim Ronaldo’s affection for United’s fans remains intact. He is of course revered at Old Trafford. And netted 18 Premier League goals last season to help drag United into sixth place.
The situation remains a delicate one for United and Arnold. But United’s priority is to get a deal hammered out for Frenkie de Jong.
Both Arnold and United’s director of football John Murtough flew out to Spain on Monday to try and finalise a move for the Barcelona star.
Despite heading to Barcelona, Arnold has made it clear to Ronaldo his importance United and new boss Ten Hag.