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Cristiano Ronaldo Contract Extension Not Ruled out by Manchester United's Ten Hag

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2022

Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Despite persistent rumors that Cristiano Ronaldo is seeking a transfer away from Manchester United this summer, his new manager, Erik ten Hag, suggested to reporters on Monday not only that the star striker may stay, but that he could even extend his contract.

"I am well informed he also has an option [to extend his contract until 2024], no?" he said, per Rob Dawson of ESPN. "Of course, I have signed here for three years, but in football, it's short-term as well. We have to win from the start. So I don't look that far ahead. I have a strategy, it's a process, it takes time, but in the end, we have to make sure from the outset there is a winning team."

It would certainly appear that ten Hag is set on having Ronaldo at forward for this coming season.

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Erik ten Hag: “Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale. I planned with him, and I’m looking forward to working with him. The situation is still the same. I am well informed – he also has an option for a further season” 🚨🔴 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MUFC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MUFC</a><br><br>“Ronaldo could stay beyond this season? Yes”, he added. <a href="https://t.co/ZhUHARoQrf">pic.twitter.com/ZhUHARoQrf</a>

"We all know Ronaldo is a top professional and he will be fit, that is the last concern I have. He is training," he added while speaking to Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic. "I have set my demand. We want to play in a certain way. A top player can contribute and Ronaldo is an absolute top player in our squad. Cristiano is capable of doing that. In his career, he has shown everything."

Granted, much of this could be posturing on ten Hag's part to help United get the best possible return for Ronaldo if a transfer is negotiated and a top European club is willing to match Ronaldo's reportedly steep contract.

The latest club linked to Ronaldo have been Atletico Madrid:

Ben Jacobs @JacobsBen

Manchester United maintain Ronaldo is not for sale, a stance that will be tested if/when a concrete offer is made. Ronaldo would be open to Atleti. Madrid and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCL</a> football is a strong fit. But Atleti aren’t in a position to move imminently even if Ronaldo took a pay cut.

Ben Jacobs @JacobsBen

On Ronaldo’s side, the interest in Atleti is also very real. The challenge is around whether the financials of a move are possible and quickly and it’s also a test of how much say Simeone gets. One to watch, because there is some contact, but Atleti well aware of the challenges.

Reports have suggested that Ronaldo wants to play Champions League football next year, hence his reported desire to seek a move away from Old Trafford. Add in the fact that United reportedly were a mess last season under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, finishing just sixth in the Premier League, and it wouldn't come as a shock if Ronaldo wanted a change in scenery.

But replacing him wouldn't be easy. While Ronaldo doesn't offer much in the way of pressing at this stage in his career and is far better served as a central forward than the winger role he played in his prime, the 37-year-old still managed 18 goals in 30 Premier League appearances last season.

The once dynamic Ronaldo is more a poacher at this stage in his career, though given his scoring record, he's clearly effective playing that style.

Ronaldo's game may conflict with the high-pressing style and 4-3-3 formation ten Hag often employed at United, though as Whitwell noted, the new manager has set up United in a 4-2-3-1 upon his arrival to better suit the options available to him.

This ongoing saga will remain one of the major storylines of the summer until the transfer window closes. But for now, it appears United's new manager is set on keeping the legendary forward at Old Trafford.

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