Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will not stand in Cristiano Ronaldo’s way if he wants to leave the club in January according to reports. The Dutchman left the legendary forward on the bench for the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City and he has found his match action limited all season. And despite initially wanting to keep Ronaldo in the summer, Ten Hag is now said to agree with Ronaldo that a parting of ways would be best for both parties.
The Dutchman is believed to have held an ‘inquest’ following his side’s embarrassing defeat at the Eithad yesterday as Erling Haaland and Phil Foden tore the Red Devils apart with two hat tricks. Ronaldo was conspicuous by his absence with Ten Hag reluctant to bring him on, something he claimed was ‘out of respect’ for his successful career.
The Portugal captain asked to leave the club in the summer as he looked to join a Champions League club rather than wait around with United in the Europa League however was frustrated as the club denied his wishes. However, the Telegraph report that he is now free to leave in January instead, after falling completely out of the first team picture, so long as a suitable bid for his services comes in.
Players and staff were told to come forward with any concerns that they had about the season at the Carrington-based inquest on Monday and Ronaldo’s future was believed to be in the spotlight. It appears it has now been enough to encourage the 52-year-old to change track on the forward’s future, with the pair now sharing an understanding that the former Ajax boss will not stand in his way should an offer arrive.
The relationship between the five-time world player of the year and Ten Hag is still believed to be cordial, with the 37-year-old hopeful of more game time ahead of the World Cup in November. He believes the tournament poses his best opportunity to put himself back in the shop window and boost his chances of a move. He has made just one start in the Premier League all season, the 4-0 defeat away at Brentford, and has earned just 80 minutes of match time domestically since the start of the campaign.
His chances of a summer departure were slim with United reluctant to sanction any move however no concrete proposal came from any Champions League side limiting his options anyway. The only proper proposal came from Saudi club Al Hilal who were not expected to be much of a consideration for the former Real Madrid star.
Ten Hag said that the Portugal skipper remained on the bench yesterday “Out of respect for his big career,” in a bizarre explanation to journalists. The explanation elicited an angry response from Roy Keane who hit out at the club for ‘disrespecting’ the forward.
“I think Man United are just showing disrespect to Ronaldo,” the Irishman told Sky Sports after the game. “I think he should have been let go before the transfer window. I think the manager is holding on to him – okay, you say you need options, but you don’t hold on to Ronaldo to sit on the bench. He’s one of the greatest players ever.
“It’s just going to get uglier as the season goes on. Okay, Ronaldo’s motivated with the World Cup coming up, but if he’s sitting on the bench week in, week out, it’s not good, it’s just going to get ugly.
“I think United have shown nothing but disrespect to Ronaldo. They should have let him go when the opportunity came. As I said, he did have options to go, I know that for a fact, and holding on to him to sit on the bench I think is ridiculous for a player of his stature.”