Cristiano Ronaldo future: Man United set for January departure

Manchester United are preparing for Cristiano Ronaldo to attempt to leave the club again in January if the striker cannot win back his place in Erik ten Hag’s squad, sources have told ESPN.

Ronaldo was an unused substitute for the 6-3 loss at Manchester City and hasn’t started a Premier League game since the 4-0 loss to Brentford in August.

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The 37-year-old was keen to leave Old Trafford this summer and United are aware he could consider a move in January in a bid to find regular first-team football.

UEFA rules would allow Ronaldo to sign for a Champions League side in January and make the round of 16 in the new year despite making two appearances for United in the Europa League this season.

Sources have told ESPN that Ronaldo’s attitude towards training and games has been exemplary since it became clear he would have to stay past the transfer deadline, but he is desperate to fire the best of his last years at the top.

He’s scored one goal in eight games this season and trailed Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in the pecking order.

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Rashford returned from injury to start as a central striker in Ten Hag’s system against City before being replaced in the second half by Martial, who scored two late consolation goals.

Sources have told ESPN that Ten Hag understands Ronaldo’s situation but would still be reluctant to let him go in January.

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The Dutchman has already been told that it’s very unlikely there will be any money to spend until next summer, which would reduce the possibility that a replacement could be found for the Portuguese striker.

Rashford and Martial have already missed games through injury this season and Ten Hag fears he will run out of options during a congested season.

Ronaldo has a contract at Old Trafford until the end of the season, plus an extension option until the summer of 2024.