The Cristiano Ronaldo show is threatening to take over Manchester United’s pre-season and Stan Collymore believes new boss Erik ten Hag needs to “show some cojones and biff him off”.
It emerged over the weekend that Ronaldo is looking for an exit at Old Trafford. Reportedly he is said to be frustrated with Manchester United’s lack of summer recruits and wants to play in the Champions League again.
The Portugal star’s agent Jorge Mendes has already been in contact with Chelsea. And the Blues under new co-owner Todd Boehly are pondering making a move for the 37-year-old.
Barcelona are also said to have been alerted by Mendes to the situation.
The Independent meanwhile claim Bayern Munich are an option for Ronaldo, as they look to replace Rober Lewandowski.
What is clear is that Ronaldo’s situation is certainly a distraction for Ten Hag. The club are preparing to fly out on their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia on Friday.
Ronaldo was absent from pre-season training at Carrington on Monday. The player cited “family reasons” for his absence and it is unclear when he will return to the club.
Collymore believes Ten Hag needs to show some leadership and set Ronaldo free and instead focus on the future.
“Last year, he and his agent, Jorge Mendes, did it by dangling Manchester City’s interest in front of them. And this time Ronaldo has clearly caught a whiff of the idea that Erik ten Hag fancies moving him on, so they’ve drummed up a suggestion that other teams want him to try to get United to panic again and tie him down,” Collymore wrote in his Daily Mirror column.
“Well, my message to Ten Hag and Co is clear: show some cojones and biff him off. Because, for one thing, can you imagine Liverpool, City, Barcelona or Real Madrid being held to ransom and thinking, ‘Oh, hang on, if another big club wants him, maybe we’d better keep him’. Of course you can’t.”
The former Liverpool and Bradford striker believes the Red Devils will be better off without Ronaldo.
The veteran did blast 24 goals last season. But Collymore says Ten Hag must focus on developing a “better dressing room”.
Ronaldo ‘a luxury United cannot afford’
“And, for another, if United, with their shiny new head coach, are still having to hang their hopes on a 37-year-old Ronaldo for next season then they are in an even worse position than I thought they were. If United are serious about having a shake-up they need to let him go. And let him go now, even on a free if they have to.
“He has had tear-ups with other senior players. And regularly shown his stroppy side, which is something United don’t need right now. They are a young, vibrant team and if getting rid of Ronaldo means they are going to miss out on 20 goals next season but get a better dressing room and team spirit then so be it,” said the pundit.
Collymore, 51, insists Ronaldo remains an icon on Old Trafford, but says he is “a luxury United cannot afford”.
Collymore added: “But if you’re on the way up and you need to tell your supporters you are serious about getting into the Champions League and staying there then Ronaldo, just like Mourinho, is your man.
“Ronaldo will go down as club legend at United. He has scored big goals, so his legacy is untainted on the pitch. He will leave as a legend but even at this stage of his career he is a luxury United cannot afford.”