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Will Sporting Lisbon offer Cristiano Ronaldo a Manchester United exit?

According to the BBC, the Old Trafford board have decided it is best to let Ronaldo leave, but there are few options on the table for the Portugal captain.

Wayne Rooney recomienda al Manchester United descartar a Cristiano vs Liverpool
John Walton - PA ImagesGetty

According to reports in the UK media, Manchester United have performed a volte-face and have decided to put Cristiano Ronaldo on the transfer list after a disastrous start to the season that has left Erik ten Hag’s side bottom of the Premier League. The Old Trafford board had refused to let the Portugal captain leave when he was being touted around earlier in the summer, but their position has now changed after the two defeats, culminating in a 4-0 thrashing at Brentford, that have left the players demoralised and Ten Hag facing some unwanted scrutiny just two official games into his tenure.

BBC Sport reports that United’s hierarchy consider part of the blame lies with Ronaldo himself and have come to the conclusion that the best thing for the club is now to grant him his desire to leave in the remaining 15 days of the market. The BBC claims United now believe Ronaldo’s presence at Old Trafford is having a negative effect on the dressing room and stated that he now barely communicates with his teammates. A tense brushing of shoulders between Ronaldo and Ten Hag immediately after the Brentford defeat made headlines, with the Portuguese apparently no huge fan of the Dutch tactician.

The BBC adds that United feel nothing will change for the better unless Ronaldo leaves Old Trafford and that even if that happens with no time to bring in a replacement, the board believe there will be a significant improvement in performance due to a lightening of the mood in the dressing room.

Where could Cristiano Ronaldo go?

Ronaldo has been pushing for a transfer all summer largely due to his desire to play in the Champions League but also due to tensions with Ten Hag and some of his teammates. Among his reported suitors were Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid, Napoli and Chelsea but none of those sides went as far as a concrete offer. Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, sounded out both AC Milan and Inter recently but the Serie A sides were put off by the financial implications of signing the Portugal star.

That leaves Ronaldo – and United – in something of a conundrum with just two weeks of the transfer market remaining. There are few clubs that can afford to take the Portuguese on, so he may have to consider lowering his wage demands considerably to secure a move. The most obvious destination would perhaps be a return to Real Madrid, but Florentino Pérez is unlikely to risk upsetting the apple cart with Karim Benzema firmly installed as the team’s leader and things ticking over perfectly well under Carlo Ancelotti without the club’s all-time top scorer.

Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo’s boyhood club, can offer Champions League football but not much else on the economic front. Nostalgia, and the opportunity to play in a competitive side in a World Cup year, may win out but Ronaldo has appeared unwilling to undersell himself so far this summer. However, with the Portuguese having decided his time at United is up and the club now apparently of the same mind, he may find he has little choice but to lower his demands or to accept a loan deal, something Sporting president Frederico Varandas may well decide to have a look into.