Man Utd boss makes stance clear on Ronaldo sale
Erik ten Hag wants Cristiano Ronaldo to be a central figure in his new regime at Manchester United, with the club's new Dutch boss telling the media that the Portuguese superstar is not available for transfer this summer - despite the player reportedly informing the club of his desire to leave Old Trafford.
Former Ajax boss Ten Hag has been tasked with steadying the ship in the red half of Manchester following the tumultuous reigns of Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but it had seemed as though any Red Devils revival would have to come without Ronaldo after their top scorer last season asked to leave if a suitable offer was made for his services.
It is understood that Ronaldo's desire to leave United for a second time comes after their dismal season in which they failed to qualify for the Champions League - with the five-time winner of the competition said to be seeking a sixth before he hangs up his boots.
Erik Ten Hag: "Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT for sale, he is in our plans - he's not with us due to personal issues. We are planning with Cristiano Ronaldo for this season, that's it". 🚨🔴 #MUFC "How to make Cristiano happy? I don't know - I'm looking forward to work with him". pic.twitter.com/8bSRpQbXkI— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 11, 2022
The likes of Chelsea, Napoli and Bayern Munich are thought to be considering a move for Ronaldo - but United's public stance is that he won't be going anywhere other than the club's Carrington training ground in the coming weeks.
However, speculation remains that United's public statements differ from their internal decision-making amid reports that the Ten Hag is preparing for life without last season's top goalscorer.
“We are planning with Ronaldo for this season - that's it. I'm looking forward to working with him,” said Ten Hag in advance of the club's preseason tour of Thailand and Australia.
Ronaldo will not be present for any of the scheduled games.
“He hasn't told me this. I have read, but as I say, Cristiano is not for sale, he's in our plans and we want to get success together.
“I spoke with him before this issue came up. I had a conversation him and had a real good talk.”
Sky Sports reports that Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes has spent the past several days attempting to convince a host of Europe's elite clubs not just of Ronaldo's still-potent talents in the latter part of his career, but also the significant financial benefits available via the player.
Mendes has compiled a dossier in which he highlights Ronaldo's impact on merchandise, social media and access to underdeveloped markets; a by-product of being the world's most famous footballer.
Mendes has already met with new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly where it is thought he attempted to convince him of the impact that Ronaldo could have at Stamford Bridge, both on and away from the pitch.
For now, though, Ronaldo hasn't quite pressed the panic button when it comes to his intentions to leave the club.
But the Portuguese likely isn't afraid of the 'nuclear option' - particularly given comments he made the last time he wanted to leave Manchester United in 2008 when he aligned himself with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter who suggested that United were involved in 'slavery' in their refusal to budge amid interest from Real Madrid.
“I agree with what [Blatter] said,” Ronaldo said at the time.
“It's true. I agree with what the president of FIFA said. I know what I want and what I would like. We have to see what happens. I do not know where I will begin next season.”
Alex Ferguson's Manchester United soon found out what happens when you don't bow to Ronaldo's demands. One suspects Erik Ten Hag's regime might soon be in for a similar lesson.