Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag confirmed Friday that Cristiano Ronaldo refused to enter Wednesday's 2-0 Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur as a substitute before walking down the tunnel in the match's final minutes.
Ten Hag added he'd already given Ronaldo a warning about his behavior after a similar incident during a preseason match against Rayo Vallecano when he entered the locker room early, saying a coach must establish a "top sport culture."
"We are a team, and in the team, we have values and standards, and I have to control that," Ten Hag told reporters. "After Rayo Vallecano, I told [him] it was unacceptable, but he was not the only one, but that is for everyone, so when it's the second time, there will be consequences. I sent a warning at the start of the season, next time there has to be consequences. Football is a team sport, and you have to fulfill certain standards. And I have to control it."
United announced Thursday that Ronaldo won't be part of Saturday's matchday squad to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as a result of his midweek actions.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner posted a statement on Instagram, saying "sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us:"
Ten Hag said Ronaldo is expected to rejoin the squad Monday ahead of a Europa League clash with Moldovan side FC Sheriff on Thursday.
"We will miss him tomorrow," the United boss said Friday. "It's a miss for the squad, but it's important for the attitude and mentality of the group, and now we have to focus on Chelsea as that is important. He remains an important part of the squad."
The 37-year-old Portuguese legend has tallied two goals and one assist across 12 appearances (six starts) for United this season.
His displeasure comes after a summer when he sought a transfer to a Champions League club that never materialized.
Pete Hall of iNews reported Thursday the Red Devils are now considering whether to release the forward if no deal can be found in January during the winter transfer window.
Ronaldo rejoined United in August 2021 after previously emerging as one of the world's most dynamic attackers during his first stint with the Premier League club from 2003 through 2009. He's also played for Sporting CP, Real Madrid and Juventus.
He's expected to feature prominently for Portugal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup starting next month in Qatar despite his limited involvement for United so far this term.
How he performs on the international stage could help determine whether there's significant transfer interest from marquee clubs come January.