Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reaffirmed the club’s public commitment that star Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale with potential suitors yet to test whether that remains as steadfast behind closed doors.
Ronaldo did not travel with Ten Hag’s squad for their preseason tour of Thailand and Australia for personal reasons. He told the club hierarchy earlier this month that he wants to leave in pursuit of Champions League football, though he has not yet spoken to his new manager about his future.
Ever since news broke of Ronaldo’s desire to leave, United have insisted that they do not want to sell the 37-year-old attacker, last season’s top scorer, and they expect him to see out the final season of his contract. However, there are those within the game who question how the Red Devils might handle the situation with a formal declaration of interest from another major club. So far those have not emerged.
Bayern Munich have publicly distanced themselves from a move for the Portugal international. Napoli have been linked with a move, but if the forward were to remain on his current salary then that would take up around 15 percent of the club’s pre-COVID 19 revenue. Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has spoken to Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and Stamford Bridge does seem the most feasible escape route for the veteran, though how manager Thomas Tuchel would feel about integrating Ronaldo into his pressing system is the subject of no little debate.
For now, Ten Hag has moved to cool some of that. Speaking ahead of the club’s first preseason game against Liverpool on Tuesday, the United boss said: “He’s not with us, it’s due to personal issues. We are planning with Cristiano Ronaldo for this season. I’m looking forward to working with him.
“He hasn’t told me he wants to leave. I have read but what I say, Cristiano is not for sale. He is in our plans, and we want to have success together.”
Meanwhile, Ten Hag has confirmed that Harry Maguire will continue to captain the club next season. The England international struggled for form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last term and was the subject of a strong spotlight that it had been speculated new management might wish to move him.
Ronaldo might even have been among the contenders to take the armband from Maguire had Ten Hag opted for a change with Bruno Fernandes and David de Gea other possible options in a squad where few players seem to be definite starters.
“I have to get to know all the players and it takes time,” said Ten Hag.
“But he is an established captain for a few years and he has achieved a lot of success, so I don’t doubt about this issue.”