The club’s international players met Erik Ten Hag for the first time on Monday, but his absence cast a cloud over the proceedings. Cristiano Ronaldo has not returned for preseason training at Manchester United despite having informed the team that he wants to depart this summer. Manager Erik ten Hag has accepted the “family reasons” given as the official justification for his absence. It is the most recent attempt by Ronaldo to force a transfer during this window, and it poses significant disorder just days before United is scheduled to leave for Thailand for the first leg of their summer tour.
Ronaldo has told Man Utd that he wants them to accept any reasonable offer for him, with the 37-year-old determined to move to a club in the Champions League. He is dismayed by United’s decline and convinced he must move to ensure he can continue to challenge for the biggest honours. The former Real Madrid and Juventus striker has made it clear that he does not believe they will be able to mount a realistic title challenge this season – and also has concerns over their ability to secure a top four finish. Ronaldo is in the twilight of his career and is adamant he wants to carry on playing at the highest level of the game – particularly the Champions League. Not even the appointment of Ten Hag has persuaded him that Man Utd can quickly turn their fortunes around after enduring their worst ever Premier League campaign last season. Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is said to have already been sounding out potential buyers, with Bayern Munich and Chelsea linked. Sources believe Mendes may already have a suitor lined up, given the request for Man Utd to accept a bid.
The absence of the Portuguese legend overshadowed matters even though the rest of the club’s international players were scheduled to meet with Ten Hag for the first time on Monday at Carrington. Ronaldo’s excuse for skipping the first day of preseason training has been accepted by Manchester United, but they maintain he is still an important player in Ten Hag’s plans and is not up for sale. They have already spent their resources on other sections of the squad after missing out on their main strike target Darwin Nunez this summer. While they want to bolster their offense, they are more interested in Ajax winger Antony than a conventional center forward.