Erik ten Hag is prepared to let Cristiano Ronaldo leave Manchester United in January if a suitable buyer can be found.
Ronaldo has lost his place in United’s first eleven under the Dutchman in recent fixtures, and his absence had coincided with the club’s upturn in form before the last international break.
Ten Hag revealed he chose not to bring on Ronaldo in last Sunday’s chastening defeat to local rivals Manchester United “out of respect for his big career” – a comment Ten Hag has received criticism for in some quarters – though the Portuguese did play the full 90 minutes in Thursday’s Europa League win over Omonia Nicosia.
Ronaldo missed a host of chances that night and is still short of his 700th career club goal, while he has only scored once in 12 appearances for club and country so far this season. His solitary strike came from the penalty spot in another Europa League win over Sheriff.
The 37-year-old and his agent Jorge Mendes made it clear during the summer transfer window that Ronaldo wanted to leave Old Trafford following their failure to qualify for the Champions League, though a number of Europe’s top sides turned down the chance to sign him.
Ronaldo’s desire to leave still remains, and it’s near certain that he will leave United in 2023 – whether in January or at the end of his contract next summer.
Ten Hag is has asked decision makers at United to make an effort to part ways with the player too, though we understand that the Dutchman is happy with how Ronaldo is training.
The former Ajax boss is however becoming frustrated at the attention that surrounds Ronaldo – whether he plays or not – and feels it is making his job more difficult as he tries to imprint his style on a squad with brittle confidence and belief following a disastrous season last year. The fallout from the defeat at City was dominated by Ronaldo and why he wasn’t used.
It’s understood Steve McClaren is playing a huge part in maintaining squad harmony at the moment with frustration between Ronaldo and Ten Hag, plus assistant Mitchell van der Gaag, brewing behind the scenes over coaching methods.
Mendes has been given the green light to again try and find Ronaldo a new club in January, though deals in the winter window are never easy to pull off. Ronaldo is keen to explore a move back to Sporting CP – the club where his career started – and some within the club are still keen to make the return happen.
Sporting are well placed to qualify from their Champions League group – which also contains Tottenham – and sit top after three games with two home fixtures remaining.
Whether Ronaldo does leave United in January entirely depends on what possibilities become available, with plenty of football to play out between now and the new year. United are expected to facilitate his departure if it becomes a viable option.