Cristiano Ronaldo has hinted he will make his Manchester United return against Rayo Vallecano this weekend – saying ‘Sunday, the king plays’.
Ronaldo was not included in United’s 21-man squad for Saturday’s friendly against Atletico Madrid in Oslo, with the forward still wanting to leave the club after talks this week.
But in a comment on Instagram he suggested he would feature in United’s match against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes held meetings with United at Carrington on Tuesday, but his position remains unchanged and he wants to play for a club in the Champions League and win major trophies.
Man Utd squad for Saturday’s Atletico Madrid friendly
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Tom Heaton, Matej Kovar.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Ethan Laird, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Alex Telles.
Midfielders: Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, James Garner, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho.
United do not want him to go, however, and Ronaldo has started training with the team having missed the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to family reasons.
His potential options elsewhere are limited. Chelsea are not an option anymore, while Bayern Munich and Atletico appeared to publicly rule themselves out this week.
Atletico fans displayed a banner stating ‘CR7 not welcome’ at a pre-season friendly on Wednesday.
Although there are major issues to overcome for Ronaldo to join Atletico, Sky Sports News has been told by one source not to completely rule it out yet.
Has Ronaldo run out of options?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“As we’ve seen on Instagram, Ronaldo has been keeping fit, so there are no concerns from Manchester United over his fitness or physical level; he’s one of the fittest players in world football.
“Ultimately, Ronaldo did state his desire to leave Old Trafford, but he’s running out of options, and it seems like he’s actually going to have to stay. Perhaps he will try and swing it where the 25 per cent pay cut in his contract will be waived away by United, perhaps he wants to manoeuvre and muscle a new deal, we’ll have to wait and see. But it doesn’t look like Stamford Bridge is on his cards.
“Chelsea have distanced themselves from a deal for Ronaldo, as have Bayern Munich, Napoli and a lot of other elite clubs that Jorge Mendes, who is Ronaldo’s agent, has tried to sell him to.
“An offer from Saudi Arabia is astronomical but ultimately, it does not give Cristiano Ronaldo what he wants, which is that legacy. He wants to achieve Champions League records that he thinks no one else will be able to attain in the future.
“He wants to sign off at the absolute highest level. Now, it looks increasingly like he will have to stay at Manchester United because there are no biters from the big clubs.
“Everyone has their forwards already, and Chelsea, who are the only club looking like they could actually potentially be spun by what Cristiano Ronaldo offers off the pitch. We were told that Mendes, while being in front of these clubs, was putting forward his numbers in terms of social media influence, sponsorship that he rakes in, the commercial gain of his shirt sales and stuff like that. But even they now say he is not in their plans. Their immediate aim is to strengthen the defence.
“So, that leaves Ronaldo really with not many choices. We know that he does want to be competing at the highest level so if he does go to Saudi Arabia that cuts against everything he has said and everything we actually know about him and his career.
“Manchester United have always been very calm and very comfortable. They have insisted he is not for sale, and he will see out the last year of his contract. How they manoeuvre this now going forward we’ll see, but Ronaldo is keeping fit, so they have no issues or problems or fears over what state he’ll report back to pre-season in.”
United not giving up on De Jong | Open to Bailly offers
United are not giving up on the signing of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, and are comfortable with the broad agreement they have with Barcelona – worth £72m including add-ons.
The club will have their own deadline to get a deal done before activating moves for other targets. Sky Sports News has been told United are keeping alternatives “warm” should a deal for De Jong fail to materialise.
United have also been interested in Ajax forward Antony in this transfer window but not at the price Ajax want.
The club are open to offers for defenders Eric Bailly and Alex Telles.
There has been interest from Fulham, Trabzonspor and from Serie A for Bailly. United would prefer a sale or at least a loan with an obligation to buy.
Telles’ game time will be further limited next season following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, but there are no concrete offers yet.
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Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.
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