Cristiano Ronaldo is set to finally return to England after a standoff with Manchester United over a potential departure in order to hold talks with Erik ten Hag, but there remains no clear date for the 37 year old to return to Red Devil training.
Ronaldo has yet to rejoin his teammates for pre-season, despite being due back two weeks ago, and was omitted from United’s travelling squad to Bangkok and Australia.
Erik ten Hag was quick to deny that a departure was in the works, stressing that his key asset is not for sale this summer.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale, he is in our plans”, he told the media. “He’s not with us due to personal issues. We are planning with Cristiano Ronaldo for this season, that’s it”.
The Dutchman then added that he is “looking forward to work with him”, allaying potential fears that the 37-year-old may not be in Manchester come transfer deadline day.
Now, as per the Athletic, the striker is ‘travelling back to England for talks with Manchester United over his future’ from his native Portugal, where has been since the beginning of pre-season.
‘His return is believed to be viewed by the Old Trafford [hierarchy] as a positive sign’, they add.
Will he depart?
Doors continue to close for the six time Ballon D’or winner this summer, with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus all having seemingly ruled themselves out of the race.
Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea harbour doubts about his suitability for the side, having just offloaded Romelu Lukaku and fearing a repeat. Atletico Madrid had been one potential destination mooted in the media, but a mass protest on social media has made this already unlikely scenario even more so.
Meanwhile, his desire to continue playing at the top level has ruled out approaches from boyhood club Sporting Lisbon, as well as offers from Saudi Arabia and the MLS.
And, likely as a result of this the Athletic report that ‘sources around the matter suggest it is increasingly likely that Ronaldo remains at United, but there is still a lack of clarity about the situation’.
Whether United will get a fully 100% committed Ronaldo is another matter.