Erik ten Hag has reportedly had a change of heart regarding Cristiano Ronaldo‘s future at Manchester United and is now open to letting the wantaway forward to leave.
The 37-year-old’s future at Old Trafford has been up in the air ever since he declared his intention to quit the club earlier in the summer following their failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Ten Hag – who became the club’s first manager in 101 years to lose his first two games following their 4-0 hammering at Brentford on Saturday – has remained adamant throughout the transfer window that Ronaldo remains part of his plans for this season.
But The Athletic claim the 52-year-old has now changed his mind and is open to letting Ronaldo leave, citing his difficult reintegration back into the squad after he missed most of pre-season due to family reasons.
The report claims that since returning to the fold, there have been days where Ronaldo sits by himself during lunch at the canteen at their Carrington training ground.
The same outlet reports there have also been instances of him flapping his arms about in training and trying to argue against the high-pressing approach implemented by Ten Hag.
Sportsmail understands that while Ronaldo is said to be training well, he exchanged words with Ten Hag’s No 2 Steve McClaren at the final whistle after refusing to applaud United’s travelling fans, and there is a feeling that his mood is having a negative effect on the dressing room.
However, United have dismissed suggestions that Ronaldo’s contract could be cancelled and reiterated that he is staying at the club.
The Athletic insists United will only consider selling the Portugal international if they can recruit in the forward areas, which they have found beyond difficult this summer and their need has been exacerbated by Anthony Martial‘s injury.
Options for Ronaldo appear few and far between, with a host of clubs opting against a move for the Portuguese this summer.
United had bid £7.5m for former West Ham and Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic last week, before opting to pull out of a potential deal for the Bologna star following a huge backlash from fans.
Another player United were linked with was RB Salzburg star Benjamin Sesko but the club were beaten to a deal for the promising Slovenian by RB Leipzig, while Alvaro Morata is also a rumoured target.
They have now reportedly contacted PSG forward Mauro Icardi‘s representatives via intermediaries, while United are reportedly also considering a shock swoop for Jamie Vardy.
Vardy is into his 10th season at the King Power Stadium and it remains to be seen whether a move to Old Trafford would be of interest to the striker at this stage of his Career.
The former England international has resisted the overtures of a so-called top six club before when Arsenal approached Leicester for the striker in the wake of the Foxes’ miraculous title win in 2016.