Cristiano Ronaldo left the Manchester United training ground ‘via the back exit’ and if that’s not a ‘clear’ indication of Erik ten Hag failing to persuade him to stay, we don’t know what is…
Ronaldo arrived at Carrington on Tuesday morning with agent Jorge Mendes for talks with new manager Ten Hag.
The Portugal international missed United’s preseason tour to Thailand and Australia because of personal reasons amid speculation over his future.
He was followed into the training ground by Sir Alex Ferguson, leading to spurious reports of the former United manager being involved in attempts to persuade the striker to stay at the club.
Ronaldo wants to leave so he can play Champions League football, but Ten Hag has previously said the 37-year-old is “not for sale” and “in our plans”.
But Mirror claim Ronaldo has made his ‘exit as stance clear after showdown talks’.
He reportedly left Carrington ‘via the back exit’ at 4.55pm having arrived at 11.30am, departing in his Aston Martin.
It’s of course perfectly possible that talks went well and he simply decided not to leave through the front door to avoid the creepily specific journalists waiting to assess his demeanour before writing exactly this sort of spurious nonsense.
If Ten Hag (or Sir Alex, if he was even present in the discussions) hasn’t managed to change Ronaldo’s mind, Mendes will be back combing Europe for any club willing to sign his client.
Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Napoli have been linked with a move, though all three sides appear to be out of the running.
Atletico Madrid have emerged as a real option, with any side not playing in the Champions League next season seemingly ruled out, but a move for the 37-year-old will be ‘very difficult’ for the La Liga side.
This is due to their financial situation. They will need to raise at least €40m if they are to sanction a move in the summer transfer window.
Alvaro Morata and Saul Niguez have returned to the club following loans elsewhere, and they are believed to be surplus to requirements. Both players contribute around €20m to the club’s wage bill.
Only a handful of clubs can afford Ronaldo’s wages, yet the vast majority of them have no interest whatsoever in pursuing a move.
It looks increasingly likely that he will have no option but to remain at United.