Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag could not be certain Cristiano Ronaldo will still be at the club after next week’s transfer deadline.
Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford a year ago and despite finishing the 2021-22 season as United’s top scorer with 18 Premier League goals, he was unable to stop the club from a terrible campaign.
Manchester United recorded their worst points tally in Premier League history and did not have a positive goal difference for the first time in over 30 years.
The result saw United comfortably miss out on Champions League qualification for this season, which appeared to be at the root of widespread pre-season reports suggesting Ronaldo wanted to leave.
He was linked with several clubs, including Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Napoli and Atlético Madrid, but no move materialized and he eventually linked up with Ten Hag towards the end of pre-season after missing out on their tour of Australia and Thailand.
Although there are reportedly no clubs currently interested in him, the uncertainty fueled by press speculation continues to cloud Ronaldo’s future; and while The Hag says he wants the Portuguese forward to stay, he was hardly convincing when asked if that would be the case.
The Hag said after Saturday’s 1-0 win at Southampton, during which Ronaldo suffered an error-strewn second-half cameo: “We plan with him. So we want him to stay. So that’s what we want.”
The Hag was then asked if Ronaldo would definitely stay if he wanted him to stay and the Dutchman looked unsure as he hesitated to answer.
With a sort of shrug, he replied, “I hope so.”
The transfer window closes on Thursday and United are expected to be active in the market until then.
PSV’s Antony and Ajax’s Cody Gakpo are the two strikers most heavily linked with United in recent weeks, with the former publicly pleading for his club to sell him on Friday.