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Ten Hag suggests Cristiano Ronaldo may extend Manchester United stay

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Manchester United, but Erik ten Hag is adamant he is staying at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo junto a Georgina Rodríguez, su pareja.
OSCAR DEL POZOAFP

Erik ten Hag has reiterated that Cristiano Ronaldo “is not for sale” and has suggested that the forward may even stay on at Manchester United beyond the end of the coming season. The Portugal international has been strongly linked with a move away from Old Trafford this transfer window, less than 12 months after returning to the club from Juventus.

Ronaldo scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) scored more – but United still finished down in sixth. He is said to be eager to join a team competing in the Champions League and has yet to return to pre-season training, which United have put down to compassionate leave.

Despite the ongoing speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s future, Ten Hag has again made clear he is staying put for at least another year. “It is clear – he is not for sale,” the coach told reporters on United’s pre-season tour of Australia. “I planned with having him and I am looking forward to working with him. I am well-informed he also has an option [for a further season].”

Asked if that could mean Ronaldo remaining at United for the 2023-24 campaign, Ten Hag replied: “Yes. I have signed here for three years, but in football it’s short-term as well. We have to win from the start. So I don’t look that far ahead.”

Cristiano Ronaldo missed United’s pre-season tour

As well as missing the first week of training at Carrington, Ronaldo has played no part in United’s tour games in Thailand and Australia. Ten Hag is not sure when Ronaldo will resume training, but he has not ruled out selecting him for United’s Premier League opener against Brighton and Hove Albion on 7 August. “He is training,” the Dutchman said. “I think we all know Ronaldo is a top professional and he will be fit [for the start of the season], so that is the last concern I have.”

Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions for United in his first season back at the club, which is 14 more than next-best Bruno Fernandes. No other United player reached double figures. Concerns have been raised over Ronaldo’s ability to adapt to Ten Hag’s pressing style, however, which was evident under interim boss Ralf Rangnick last season. “I think Cristiano is capable of doing that,” Ten Hag said. “In his career he has shown everything. I have set my demand. We want to play in a certain way. A top player can contribute and Ronaldo is an absolute top player in our squad. The players dictate the way you play. Especially players who score goals because they are extremely important for a team. You construct your team around them.”