Upon making a remarkable and unexpected return to Manchester United in 2021, fans were hoping that Cristiano Ronaldo would end his illustrious career at the club. Just one year later, the Portuguese superstar appears to be keen to leave, unhappy that his team won’t be competing in the UEFA Champions League.
Nobody can doubt the ever-present desire and hunger which drives Ronaldo, who has become one of the most iconic footballers in the world. But inevitably, the clock is ticking for this living legend of the beautiful game.
The 37-year-old is keen to win more silverware before hanging up his boots, although it appears he doesn’t see that happening at Manchester United.
According to Mirror, the bombshell was dropped by Ronaldo just ahead of pre-season, when he told the Old Trafford hierarchy of his desire to leave, should a suitable offer arrive during the current summer transfer window.
Having failed to turn up for pre-season under the leadership of new head coach Erik ten Hag, numerous destinations are being touted.
When such a high-profile player is looking to change clubs, there will always be plenty of rumour and speculation created, although thus far Manchester United has denied that Ronaldo will be leaving.
Likewise, the last comments from the player himself in June suggested his willingness to stay, despite acknowledging what had been a difficult 2021-22 campaign.
Cristiano Ronaldo last season:— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 6, 2022
🏆 Most Premier League POTM awards
🏆 Most Man United POTM awards
🏆 Man United’s Player of the Year
⚽️ Man United’s top scorer
⚽️ Man United’s Goal of the Season
👤 Included in Premier League Team of the Year pic.twitter.com/I3zRF70xDZ
Ronaldo was easily the most consistent player for the Red Devils, bagging 24 goals in 38 appearances last season. However, the rest of the team performed way below expectations, which ultimately cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his position as manager.
When results didn’t improve under interim head coach Ralf Rangnick, the best they could achieve was a hugely disappointing sixth position in the Premier League.
United will play in the UEFA Europa League during the 2022-23 campaign, as Ten Hag seeks to rebuild the team, although Ronaldo does not seem prepared to wait any longer. He believes his global stature merits UEFA Champions League football, promoting an apparent desire to seek that objective elsewhere.
Given the current situation and level of uncertainty surrounding Ronaldo, leading bookmakers are offering odds for plenty of potential destinations.
Backing possible transfers has become hugely popular amongst punters, while Sports Betting Online experts can bring insights that make a real difference, cutting through the noise to compare the latest odds and offers.
Right now, odds would suggest Ronaldo is more likely to remain at Manchester United, although only just, as odds have also shortened for a switch to Premier League rivals Chelsea, following reports that his agent Jorge Mendes has already spoken to the Stamford Bridge club.
While United slumped to sixth place, the Blues finished the 2021-22 campaign 16 points ahead in third spot, securing Champions League football for the upcoming season.
Regardless of the current stance at Manchester United, who insist their iconic forward is going nowhere, many pundits believe that letting a disgruntled Ronaldo leave would be the most sensible option.
Highlighted by the Daily Mail, former player Gary Neville insists that whatever happens, the club mist deal with the situation “decisively and quickly” in his opinion, rather than turning into an unsettling saga.
Neville fears that any problems with Ronaldo could affect morale, taking focus away from important work being done by manager Ten Hag, who is eager to make a solid start under his tenure at Manchester United.
Likewise, the club would also be forced into searching for a suitable replacement striker, which could prove both difficult and costly. There is no shortage of attacking talent in the squad, although the new boss has yet to weigh up his options.
This has led to speculation that Ten Hag might consider bringing in another striker, with 22-year-old Anthony at his former club Ajax regarded as the ideal target, albeit one who isn’t accustomed to playing as a centre-forward.
Some reports have already suggested that United have already offered €60 million, although the Dutch club are holding out for around €80 million for the Brazilian.
Another option could be 28-year-old Paulo Dybala, who is currently available on a free transfer after his contract at Juventus expired.
Once regarded as one of the best attacking prospects in Europe, the Argentine forward scored 115 goals in 293 appearances with the Turin club.
Reports in Italy claim that Manchester United has already made initial contact with his agent.
Whatever path Manchester Untied choose to take, losing Ronaldo would undoubtedly be a huge blow.
This underlines the need to move swiftly, should that eventually happen, bringing in a suitable replacement who can soften the blow for supporters, while providing them with every reason to believe the correct response has been taken.