Cristiano Ronaldo reiterates his desire to leave Manchester United during the Carrington meeting

Cristiano Ronaldo reiterates his desire to leave Manchester United during the Carrington meeting

Cristiano Ronaldo has reiterated his desire to leave Manchester United during meetings at the club’s Carrington training base, but managers continue to insist he is not for sale.

After discussions, it is felt that a main goal for Ronaldo who wants to leave is to spend the 2022-23 season at a Champions League club so that he can cement his scoring record in the competition. He currently leads with 140 goals – 15 ahead of Lionel Messi, who is two years his junior. United are in the Europa League this campaign.

Ronaldo is also three goals behind Messi in the Champions League group stage goalscoring table, and overtaking his long-term rival on this count is believed to be an extra goal. Winning trophies and family reasons are also big motivations.

Jorge Mendes is working on establishing exit routes from Old Trafford, and The Athletic understands that talks have been held with Sporting Lisbon. Ronaldo’s first professional club is in the Champions League after finishing second in the Primeira Liga.

Finding the finances for such a move – including covering his high wages – would be complicated and head coach Ruben Amorim is said to have reservations about bringing Ronaldo into his squad given the huge change in dynamics the 37-year-old would inevitably cause.

However, signing Ronaldo offers clear commercial benefits as he opens up endless marketing opportunities on the global stage.

Atletico Madrid, United’s opponents in a friendly in Oslo on Saturday, are being linked with an approach despite club president Enrique Cerezo calling a move “practically impossible”. Hardcore fans have also objected to a bid.

Ronaldo is not expected to feature in the Norwegian capital, with an appearance the day after the visit of Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford said to be more realistic.

Ronaldo has kept fit at Portugal’s training base in Lisbon, but is described as four weeks behind his teammates in terms of physical and tactical readiness under Erik ten Hag.

On Tuesday, Ten Hag spoke to Ronaldo for the first time since he communicated his intentions, and the United manager has consistently said publicly how important the Portuguese centre-forward is to his team. But the situation threatens to overshadow Ten Hag’s preparations for the start of the Premier League, with the opening game against Brighton 10 days away.

Ronaldo missed United’s pre-season tour after being put on leave for “personal reasons”. However, United have been unsure of his exact movements and intentions in training, right up until he drove through the entrance at Carrington with Mendes in the passenger seat on Tuesday morning.

He underwent medical testing, including some work on the grass, but did not participate in the session with his teammates. He watched United face Wrexham in a friendly at Carrington on Wednesday.

United are determined to keep Ronaldo. Anthony Martial would be the only recognized senior centre-forward if United sanctioned a sale.

Ten Hag has said the squad needs to be strengthened in attack, but a move for Antony is ruled out at this stage due to Ajax putting a €100m price tag on his head.

United have held talks about Benjamin Sesko, the 19-year-old Red Bull Salzburg striker who scored against Liverpool on Wednesday, but a move is seen as complicated because the Austrians do not want to sell. In addition, the Red Bull model often sees players moved between their clubs, with RB Leipzig an obvious route should their attitude change.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Ronaldo is finally back at United - but his future remains unclear


Ronaldo is finally back at United – but his future remains unclear

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