Manchester United play hardball with Cristiano Ronaldo

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Manchester United played hardball, as Cristiano Ronaldo held showdown talks with the club at Carrington on Monday. The opening round of talks reportedly ended in an impasse.

The 37-year-old returned to Manchester from his self-imposed exile yesterday and was accompanied by his agent Jorge Mendes. The duo held talks with United manager Erik ten Hag and chief executive Richard Arnold. Ronaldo’s mentor, former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, too, was present at Carrington, although it was unclear if he took part in the discussion.

United maintain that Ronaldo is not for sale, while the player reportedly wants to leave to play in the Champions League. United have been relegated to the Europa League after finishing sixth in Premire League last term. Reported transfer overtures made by Mendes have been met with rejections so far, although Atletico Madrid are said to be weighing up the options to bring in the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo. (FILE)

Ronaldo was United’s highest scorer with 24 goals in all competitions last term, but there’s a question mark over whether he would fit into Ten Hag’s high-pressing style. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick reportedly advised the board to sell Ronaldo in January. Rangnick has left to take charge of the Austrian national football team, while Ten Hag so far has talked positively about the player.

A story is doing the rounds that United might sanction a loan deal for Ronaldo, provided the latter is extending his contract for one more year and coming back to the club next season. Ronaldo skipped United’s pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia, citing family reasons, and Anthony Martial florished in his absence, playing as No. 9. Martial is set to start, as United open their Premier League campaign this term against Brighton on August 7.





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