Roy Keane believes Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag can get Cristiano Ronaldo onside – but has warned the situation could become “ugly”.
The Portugal star reportedly wants to leave Old Trafford because of the lack of Champions League football there. Still, he has found a move away hard to come by, with a host of clubs rejecting a transfer.
Developments in the past week have seen Ronaldo face criticism from Ten Hag for leaving Sunday’s pre-season clash against Rayo Vallecano early.
Ten Hag then added that Ronaldo can play a vital role in his Man Utd plans – if he is willing to play by the rules.
Speaking to Sky Sports, former Red Devil Keane insisted that Ten Hag can deal with Ronaldo and get him on his side. However, he warned that a slow start for the club could turn the situation on its head.
“You have to try and keep Ronaldo because he’s a brilliant player but we don’t know Ronaldo’s behaviour when he’s back in the building,” Keane said.
“I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as everyone’s making out. When you’re a manager, trouble comes your way, he has to deal with it.
“I think it can work out well for United. My worry is if he stays and United don’t start great, and he’s resentful to the manager, then it could get ugly.”
The situation is still dominating the rhetoric at Old Trafford ahead of United’s Premier League opener against Brighton on Sunday. Ronaldo could start in that game, with Anthony Martial out due to a hamstring injury.
Man Utd then face Brentford and Liverpool and Ronaldo could yet start those matches too.
Roy Keane questions Jorge Mendes over Ronaldo
Keane then pointed the finger at Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, for not making an exit for the player easier this summer.
The 37-year-old has one year left on the contract he signed last summer, with the option of another year after that.
Keane said: “A lot of the issue is Ronaldo not playing in the Champions League for his ego, ‘brand’ or whatever.
“Why did his agent not have if Manchester United didn’t get in the Champions League there’s an option for both parties to have a look at it?
“If you’ve got this ‘super agent’ who has got unbelievable contacts and brilliant in terms of negotiations, why doesn’t he have that in Ronaldo’s contract?”
Man Utd star faces wait
While the easiest option for United would be to get Ronaldo involved straight away and try to banish some of the talk about him, he faces a wait to play.
Indeed, Ten Hag has said Ronaldo is not up to speed having missed his side’s pre-season tours due to family reasons.
Should Manchester United keep Cristiano Ronaldo?
Do Manchester United need Cristiano Ronaldo next season?
That means Ronaldo will not be able to move forward at least for the first week of the season.
It looks unlikely the Portuguese leaves this summer, so the sooner he gets on the pitch and tries to prove himself, the better.