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  05 Jul 2022, 11:34

Ronaldo's power play puts pressure on Ten Hag

LONDON, July 5, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Cristiano Ronaldo's shock demand to leave
Manchester United has thrown Erik ten Hag's plans into disarray as he
scrambles to contain the fall-out from the Portugal star's power play.

Just one year after returning to United in a blockbuster move from Juventus,
Ronaldo has already grown so disenchanted that he is trying to force his way
out of Old Trafford.

The 37-year-old is reported to have told United he wants to be sold, with his
agent Jorge Mendes said to have held talks with Bayern Munich, Chelsea and
Napoli as he seeks a club capable of satisfying Ronaldo's ambitions.

Ronaldo's frustration mounted throughout a turbulent campaign that saw United
go through three managers as they finished a disappointing sixth in the
Premier League.

Although Ronaldo was United's top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions,
his side ended the season trophyless and failed to qualify for the Champions
League.

The prospect of playing in the Europa League is hardly appealing to a five-
time Ballon d'Or winner who has lifted the Champions League trophy five
times.

Ronaldo has one year remaining on his contract and United insist the former
Real Madrid forward is not for sale.

Ten Hag had expressed excitement at the prospect of working Ronaldo, but
might have to plan a future without his most decorated player.

If Ten Hag had hoped to persuade Ronaldo to drop his transfer demand, the
former Ajax boss won't have been encouraged by the star's absence when the
rest of United's internationals arrived for the start of their pre-season
training programme on Monday.

United are due to fly to Thailand on Friday for their tour of Asia and
Australia.

If Ronaldo misses the trip, it would seem almost certain his second spell at
United is destined for an abrupt end.

- Gloomy presence -

Chelsea's new co-owner Todd Boehly is believed to be intrigued by the idea of
starting a new era at Stamford Bridge with the marquee signing of Ronaldo.

It remains to be seen whether Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel would be quite so
amenable to the move after Ronaldo's checkered first season back in
Manchester.

While Ronaldo's quality as a finisher remains unmatched, he rarely showed
signs of wanting to engage with the high-tempo pressing game that interim
boss Ralf Rangnick hoped to deploy.

Ronaldo's lack of mobility and dubious work ethic reportedly convinced
Rangnick to tell United football director John Murtough to sell him during
the January transfer window.

That request was not granted and Ronaldo remained a gloomy presence around
the club for the rest of the season.

He publicly clashed with Rangnick after being substituted during a match at
Brentford, while there were reports of issues between the star and United
captain Harry Maguire.

Ten Hag will surely be aware that life with Ronaldo rarely runs smoothly and
may even be pondering whether he would be better off without the distractions
that surround the star.

Manchester City and Liverpool are lightyears ahead of United at present and
for Ten Hag to turn them into contenders for a first English title since
2013, he needs to cleanse a squad that turned toxic last season.

The divisive Paul Pogba's departure was a step in the right direction and Ten
Hag is hopeful of putting his stamp on the squad with several signings in the
coming days.

Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen is said to have agreed a three-year
contract, with Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia close to signing.

Ten Hag is also chasing Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong and Ajax
defender Lisandro Martinez.

Those deals would be encouraging but, more importantly, Ten Hag must resolve
the Ronaldo dilemma without letting a volatile situation spiral out of
control.

 

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