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Report: Cristiano Ronaldo Misses Manchester United Return Date amid Transfer Rumors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 4, 2022

GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo was absent Monday for the club's offseason training because of family reasons, according to ESPN's Rob Dawson.

Ronaldo's future at United has come into doubt in recent days, with Dawson reporting Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli have all registered some level of interest in acquiring him.

Mark Ogden of ESPN reported Ronaldo's absence from preseason training could extend well beyond Monday: "It is also unclear as to whether Ronaldo will fly to Bangkok on Friday with the rest of the squad for the start of United's 2Β½-week tour of Thailand and Australia."

According to The Athletic's David Ornstein, representatives for the 37-year-old have continued discussions with Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly and club co-director Behdad Eghbali.

They are "thought to be intrigued by the concept of recruiting such an iconic figure," per Ornstein.

Ogden cast doubt on whether Manchester United would be willing to send Ronaldo to a domestic rival:

"Sources have told ESPN, however, that United would be open to offloading Ronaldo, 37, if a club outside the Premier League is prepared to take on the final 12 months of his Β£500,000-a-week contract. [...]
"A move to Chelsea would, right now, be unpalatable to United due to the club's determination to qualify for the 2023-24 Champions League. With Chelsea being a direct competitor for a top-four finish in the Premier League, there is little prospect of Ronaldo being allowed to move to Stamford Bridge, but there would be less resistance within the United hierarchy to a deal being struck with Bayern, Napoli or any other European team that may yet emerge as a potential destination."

Dawson reported June 26 that United informed Ronaldo they don't intend to sell him, and first-year manager Erik ten Hag "is banking on having Ronaldo in his squad next season."

Still, a transfer would seemingly benefit both parties.

The Portuguese forward would have the opportunity to compete in the Champions League elsewhere. Thanks to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League, Manchester United only qualified for the Europa League.

The Red Devils, meanwhile, could part ways with a player whose individual impact may not be helping the collective.

Especially given his age, Ronaldo's raw numbers continue to be impressive. He had 18 goals and three assists in 30 Premier League appearances, adding another six goals in seven Champions League fixtures.

But making Ronaldo your lead striker at this point in his career can create tactical issues elsewhere. By virtue of his status, he can also marginalize other attackers within the squad. Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were largely anonymous last season.

Ogden described the current situation as the "endgame" of Ronaldo's United tenure. Whether it's for Chelsea or a major club abroad, his exit might be inevitable at this point regardless of how much Ten Hag might have planned on having him in the forward line.

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