Man Utd set new Cristiano Ronaldo return date as club await wantaway icons exit strategy

Man Utd & England stars Allessia Russo and Mary Earps look ahead to EURO 2022

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Manchester United have set an updated return date for Cristiano Ronaldo as severe uncertainty over his future looms. Ronaldo wants to leave United this summer and failed to show up at Carrington for pre-season training due to ‘family reasons’.

United’s failure to qualify for the upcoming season’s Champions League and the 25 per cent deduction that came with it have set the 37-year-old striker’s heart on departing Old Trafford for a second time. And Jorge Mendes is actively offering his services to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

However, United still hope to hold onto Ronaldo for the second and final year of the contract he signed when returning from Juventus last summer. And they have settled on a new return date, which should give them a better indicator of their chances of doing that.

The Independent report United are waiting to see if their 2021/22 Player of the Year agrees to join them when they fly to Thailand for the first leg of their pre-season tour on Friday. If he is absent, it would be considered the start of an attempt to ‘strong-arm’ an Old Trafford exit and could prompt acceptance of his impending exit.

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Erik ten Hag welcomed the first wave of his new squad back at Carrington last Monday, June 27, and those on international duty in June returned this Monday, July 4. Ten Hag’s first-team squad has been bolstered by an array of the club’s youth players, most of which will embark on the tour of Thailand and Australia.

But Ronaldo’s situation, especially as the only high-profile senior absentee, has left a worrying void in the Dutchman’s plans. With Edinson Cavani also departing this summer, Ronaldo could leave United without a natural first-team striker heading into the new season.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has garnered criticism for the timing of his push for a transfer away from M16. Ten Hag will have been planning his team around him, and being told of his desire to play elsewhere at this stage of preparations will come as a significant distraction.

If Ronaldo doesn’t board the plane or meet United in Asia, the picture will be clear. The Red Devils would have to sanction his exit if a suitable offer arrives and start the search for a replacement. Ten Hag’s attacking priority is Ajax winger Antony, but plans could change if the Portuguese icon leaves a gaping void at centre-forward.

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