Where does one go who broods over his future while the world goes on? Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, has recently tried to answer this question for himself and he came to a clear conclusion: he was certainly not drawn to Thailand, where his employer Manchester United is currently doing a promotional tour. While his club is touring through Asia and then even to Australia, the former world footballer has apparently ended up home.
According to reports, Ronaldo’s Rolls Royce recently parked at home in Lisbon in front of the training center of the Portuguese national team, because of “family reasons” the father of five children is currently not going on business trips, it was said. But when someone like him retires in the middle of the pre-season, the industry naturally whispers: Is Ronaldo sulking? does he stop Or is his saudade, his longing, geared towards one last adventure on previously unconquered terrain?
After a stale year in Manchester, in which Ronaldo performed rather earthly for his standards (18 league goals), he seems to have started to ponder. At the age of 37, according to the English media, he should find it difficult to make friends with playing with United in the Europa League prairie in the new season. In addition, there are the rather subtle activities of his club on the transfer market. While the competition has already brought in attractions such as Raheem Sterling (to Chelsea), Darwin Núñez (to Liverpool) and Erling Haaland (to ManCity), the only sure acquisition at United so far is Tyrell Malacia, a defender from Feyenoord Rotterdam.
Ronaldo was apparently also offered to FC Bayern
The magazine The Athletic presented the situation as follows: Ronaldo’s return to Manchester last year, the starting point of his heroic journey, was already over before the mission could really get going. His agent Jorge Mendes has hinted at United that Ronaldo “wants to leave should he receive a suitable offer”. This is of course a rather one-sided representation, because in truth the Ronaldo side is probably actively exploring the market itself. Apparently, the striker was also offered to Bayern Munich, which the Munich team rejected with a frown. “As much as I value Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the greatest, a transfer would not fit into our philosophy,” said CEO Oliver Kahn table football.
This statement leads to the core of the personality, because the question arises as to which and whose “philosophy” Ronaldo still fits into at 37. Because time does not stop at an athlete like him, recently he was no longer able to do everything on his own on the pitch. In the late stages of his career, the Portuguese only delivers goals at a high price: he works when the entire team is geared towards him, when his extensive refusal to participate in pressing is accepted. Ralf Rangnick, acting manager at United, recently experienced the same thing when he denounced Ronaldo’s free spirit.
So what to do with someone whose understanding of their role has become a problem? Maybe the answer is yes: nowhere. Because in Manchester they seem determined to keep their most famous in the squad. Both the new club boss Richard Arnold and the new coach Erik ten Hag, who has just started, recently chose the path of sensitive de-escalation. The club allowed Ronaldo to stay away from the start of training and then ten Hag dared a charm offensive at the start of the week.
“We’re planning with Cristiano this season and that’s it,” the Dutchman said at a press conference, “I’m looking forward to working with him.” United is trying to refute rumors about Ronaldo’s departure – for example to Naples, to Chelsea or even to an even more powerful all-star team from Paris Saint-Germain (alongside Messi, Neymar and Mbappé). It was said that Ten Hag had a “really good conversation” with the striker before Ronaldo’s thoughts about his departure became known, and his dissatisfaction was not an issue there. The coach is clear: “Cristiano is not for sale, he is part of our plans and we want to be successful together.”
In order to finally provide Ronaldo with a capable team again, United now want to move forward with transfers as well. After Paul Pogba’s departure to Juventus, which was confirmed at the beginning of the week, the club’s management is said to be negotiating a purchase of Frenkie de Jong in Barcelona. The problem: the Dutchman does not want to leave Barça. And it is questionable whether United’s planned transfers of Dane Christian Eriksen (Brentford) and Argentinian Lisandro Martínez (Ajax) will suffice as reinforcements. Cristiano Ronaldo may have his doubts.