Cristiano Ronaldo has heaped pressure on Erik ten Hag to start him against Brighton despite reports he is still seeking a route out of Manchester United.
Ronaldo, 37, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to leave Old Trafford during the current transfer window. The Red Devils failure to secure Champions League football is thought to be driving his ambition to play elsewhere in 2022-2023. The Portugal international returned to the club last summer to much fanfare.
But, despite finding the net with regularity, he was unable to inspire the side to land any silverware. Ronaldo appeared to down tools during pre-season, missing tours to both Asia and Australia.
And he played just 45 minutes of a 1-1 draw with Spanish side Rayo Vallecano last Sunday. The former Real Madrid ace appeared to blot his copybook by leaving the ground before the final whistle.
And reports this week claimed he would start on the bench against the Seagulls. Whether or not that would go down well with the United faithful is open to debate.
And Ronaldo seems to have stirred the pot with an Instagram post on Saturday evening. He posted a picture of himself from his first-half display against Vallecano with the word ‘Ready’ down the side.
That will certainly enthuse the supporters but leaves Ten Hag in a difficult position. If he places the superstar on the bench then fans and pundits will ask questions, while starting him could invite accusations of caving in.
But, according to one man, Ronaldo only has eyes for the Manchester United exit door.
Ronaldo working for Man Utd departure
Sir Alex Ferguson helped to bring the former United star back to the club last summer. And it was rumoured that the legendary Scot also had words when news of his desire to leave broke.
However it appears as though the club’s former manager has been unable to work his magic this time around. Trusted transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has revealed that the player and his agent are working behind the scenes to find him a new club.
“At the moment, for Cristiano, the situation is still quiet. Jorge Mendes, I’m told, is still working to find a solution, so maybe trying with Atletico Madrid, with Bayern,” he told GiveMeSport.
“These clubs have stated in public many, many times that they have no intention to go for Cristiano Ronaldo. So it’s not an easy one definitely for Cristiano and Jorge Mendes.”
Whether or not Ten Hag does give the forward the nod from the start only time will tell. But cynical pundits may suggest that his willingness to get involved this weekend is solely to prove to suitors that he is match fit.
A hat-trick would certainly go a long way to silencing the doubters, however.