Right up until now, Manchester United have stressed that Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale.
Just days ago, it was reported that United were aware of Ronaldo’s wishes to leave Old Trafford for a second time, although they were willing to keep him at the club until his contract expires next year.
United need to at least present themselves as strong negotiators in the transfer market and with new manager Erik ten Hag has only had days to assess the situation — a week after taking pre-season for the first time – so their stance was to be expected at a time of unknown.
Ten Hag has identified Antony as a forward he’d like to bring to United this summer, but he may have second thoughts now that replacing Ronaldo could become top of the agenda.
A new report from The Sun claims United have now accepted they will lose Ronaldo this summer, with Ten Hag now having to plan for the future without United’s top scorer with 24 goals last season.
Neil Custis reports: “United were initially bullish about their star striker still being with them for next season. But Red Devils bigwigs have now recognised they cannot keep him against his will and want to avoid a long, drawn-out battle.”
It’s disappointing that Ronaldo has only let his feelings known to the club now when he surely knew all summer that he didn’t fancy playing in the Europa League next season.
I would go as far as to say this will damage the legacy he leaves behind him at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo returned for the homecoming. Nothing more.