Cristiano Ronaldo has been ‘putting the squeeze on Erik ten Hag’ in order to play for Manchester United against Brighton on Sunday, according to reports. The Red Devils will be without Anthony Martial for that fixture after the France international picked up an injury. And that’s given the Red Devils a selection dilemma as they look to start their Premier League campaign with a win.
Ronaldo only recently returned to training with United, having missed the entirety of their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to a family matter.
The Portugal international lasted just 45 minutes against Rayo Vallecano before leaving the stadium early, having been hooked for Amad at the interval.
Ronaldo looked leggy during that showdown but, according to The Mirror, has been ‘flying’ in training in the time since.
And it’s claimed the 37-year-old has told Ten Hag he’s ready to play some role in the fixture at Old Trafford, despite his late arrival.
The former Real Madrid and Juventus star, who wants to leave United for a team who can offer him Champions League football, has been playing catch-up at Carrington in order to ensure he can make the cut.
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United will be without Martial for the game after the France international injured his hamstring in last weekend’s match with Atletico Madrid in Norway.
That’s left the Red Devils short up top, especially with Edinson Cavani no longer at the club and Mason Greenwood still unavailable.
Ronaldo has been training all week with United’s conditioning staff.
And he believes he’s ready to be involved against Brighton as he looks to add to his dizzying statistics this term.
That will give Ten Hag a dilemma as he looks to secure all three points at the very first time of asking.
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United could leave Ronaldo on the bench and start with Marcus Rashford down the middle, a position the England international used to be deployed in by Louis van Gaal.
That would mean Jadon Sancho on the right, with the former Borussia Dortmund star hoping to kick on following a quiet first year at the club.
And Anthony Elanga, who was a shining light during Ralf Rangnick’s nightmare reign, would then go on the left.
However, it’s also possible United will go with a false nine, too.
Bruno Fernandes could play there, with Sancho and Rashford then flanking the Portugal international in attack.
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Ronaldo, though, would bring a different threat entirely.
Though the 37-year-old is undeniably no longer the player he was, his 24 goals across all competitions last season shows he’s got plenty to give.
United are said to be working behind the scenes to bring in a new forward, regardless of what happens with Ronaldo.
Antony has been on their radar throughout the summer, though Ajax would want a fee of £80million to even consider letting the forward go.
And Benjamin Sesko, of Red Bull Salzburg, has also emerged as a transfer target in recent days.
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Former United star Gary Neville, meanwhile, feels Ronaldo’s situation is ‘messy for everybody’.
Speaking on Friday Night Football, Neville said: “The Ronaldo situation is distracting.
“You saw Ten Hag in the press conference on Friday having to answer questions about it.
“The fact Anthony Martial has got injured and he is the only other centre forward, and he actually was going to leave the club six months ago.
“The fact they haven’t got Frenkie de Jong in, the fact you haven’t been supported in the way the other managers have and getting the signings early, I think it all means it’s a more difficult job for Ten Hag than it already was.”
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