Cristiano Ronaldo has hinted he will make his return to Manchester United against Rayo Vallecano this weekend – saying ‘on Sunday the King plays’.
Ronaldo has not been included in United’s 21-man squad for Saturday’s friendly against Atletico Madrid in Oslo, with the striker still keen to leave the club after talks this week.
But in a comment on Instagram, he suggested he would feature in United’s game against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes met United at Carrington on Tuesday but his stance remains unchanged and he wants to play for a club in the Champions League and win major trophies.
Man Utd’s squad for Saturday’s friendly against Atletico Madrid
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Tom Heaton, Matej Kovar.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Ethan Laird, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Alex Telles.
Midfielders: Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, James Garner, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho.
United don’t want him to leave, however, and Ronaldo has started training with the team after missing the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for family reasons.
His potential options elsewhere are limited. Chelsea are no longer an option, while Bayern Munich and Atletico appeared to publicly rule themselves out this week.
Atletico fans displayed a banner reading ‘CR7 not welcome’ during a pre-season friendly on Wednesday.
Although there are major issues to overcome for Ronaldo to join Atletico, Sky Sports News was told by a source not to completely rule it out yet.
Is Ronaldo running out of options?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“As we’ve seen on Instagram, Ronaldo has stayed fit so Manchester United aren’t worried about his fitness or his physical level; he’s one of the fittest players in world football.
“At the end of the day, Ronaldo has declared his desire to leave Old Trafford, but he’s running out of options, and it looks like he’s going to have to stay. Maybe he’ll try to tip it where the pay cut is. 25% in his contract will be waived by United, maybe he wants to maneuver and beef up a new deal, we’ll have to wait and see.
“Chelsea walked away from a deal for Ronaldo, as did Bayern Munich, Napoli and many other elite clubs that Jorge Mendes, who is Ronaldo’s agent, tried to sell him to.
“An offer from Saudi Arabia is astronomical but ultimately it doesn’t give Cristiano Ronaldo what he wants, which is that legacy. He wants to achieve Champions League records that he thinks no one else will be able to reach in the future.
“He wants to sign at the absolute top level. Now it looks like he will have to stay at Manchester United because there are no big club biters.
“Everyone has their strikers already, and Chelsea, who are the only club that seem to have the potential to be spun by what Cristiano Ronaldo offers off the pitch. We’ve been told that Mendes, while being ahead of those clubs, is pushing his numbers in terms of social media influence, sponsorship he garners, business gain from his shirt sales and things like that.
“So it really doesn’t leave much choice for Ronaldo. We know he wants to compete at the highest level, so if he goes to Saudi Arabia it goes against everything he’s said and of everything we really know about him and his career.
“Manchester United have always been very calm and very comfortable. They insisted he was not for sale, and he will see the last year of his contract. We will see how they maneuver now, but Ronaldo stays fit, so they have no issues, no issues or fears as to what condition he will report in pre-season.”
United are not giving up on De Jong | Open to Bailly offers
United not giving up on signing Barcelona Frankie de Jongand are comfortable with the wide-ranging deal they have with Barcelona – worth £72million including add-ons.
The club will have its own time frame to complete a deal before activating moves for other targets. Sky Sports News have been told United are keeping alternatives ‘hot’ if a deal for De Jong doesn’t materialise.
United are also interested in the Ajax striker Anthony in this transfer window but not at the price Ajax want.
The club is open to offers for defenders Eric Bailly and Alex Telles.
There has been interest from Fulham, Trabzonspor and Serie A in Bailly. United would prefer a sale or at least a loan with an obligation to buy.
Telles’ playing time will be even more limited next season following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, but there are no concrete offers yet.
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