Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has suggested Cristiano Ronaldo could stay at Old Trafford beyond 2023, despite his desire to depart this summer. Ten Hag is yet to meet Ronaldo face-to-face but has seemingly integrated the 37-year-old striker into plans for his first season as boss.
Ahead of United’s third pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace on Tuesday, Ten Hag sat down with the media for a lengthy interview. And unsurprisingly, he was asked to provide his latest piece of clarification on Ronaldo’s future at the club.
Ten Hag believes that despite not yet meeting Ronaldo, he’s well informed of his situation and admitted the Portuguese icon could even remain in M16 beyond the upcoming season if he doesn’t seal an exit before the summer transfer deadline. He said: “I am well informed. He also has an option [of another year].
“Yes [he could stay beyond this season], but to be honest, of course, 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. I have a strategy; it’s a process. It takes time, but in the end, we have to make sure from the outset there is a winning team.”
There have been concerns over whether Ronaldo could stifle the playing style and philosophy Ten Hag is working hard to instil into his United squad. However, the Dutchman is confident he will be able to press from the front and indicated that he plans to build his side around the No 7. “I think Cristiano is capable of doing that,” Ten Hag explained.
“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.”
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Ronaldo has attempted to leave United this summer, sending agent Jorge Mendes on somewhat of a tour of Europe to gather interest from Champions League clubs. However, after talks with Bayern Munich and Chelsea, while Atletico Madrid and PSG have played down their interest, there is minimal interest in taking on his mammoth salary.
He received an enticing offer from Saudi Arabia, from which he would’ve earned over £200million across a stellar two-year deal, but his desire to remain among Europe’s elite saw it rejected. With a summer exit looking increasingly unlikely, it must be a matter of time before he returns to Carrington for what’s left of pre-season ahead of next month’s Premier League opener.
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