Manchester United players do not expect Cristiano Ronaldo to be part of the squad when the Premier League resumes, sources have told ESPN.
Club bosses have been discussing the 37-year-old’s future at Old Trafford after his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan.
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Co-chairman Joel Glazer, football director John Murtough, chief executive Richard Arnold and manager Erik ten Hag held a meeting on Monday while United have also sought legal advice about how best to solve the issue.
Ten Hag, according to sources, believes he cannot work with Ronaldo again after the striker said that he “doesn’t respect” the Dutchman, and has communicated that view to the Glazers, Arnold and Murtough.
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Sources have also told ESPN that the majority of the squad do not believe there is a way back for the Portugal international, particularly because Ten Hag has taken such a hardline on squad discipline since taking over as a manager in the summer.
Ronaldo was among the United players reprimanded in July after they were pictured leaving early during a preseason friendly with Rayo Vallecano.
He was then suspended by Ten Hag in October for refusing to appear as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur and missed the 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Other players have also fallen foul of Ten Hag’s rules — sources have told ESPN they are far stricter than those imposed by predecessors Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick — including teenager Alejandro Garnacho, who missed team meetings during the preseason tour of Thailand and Australia because he was jet-lagged.
Sources have told ESPN that Ronaldo apologised to his teammates for refusing to play against Spurs, but was left confused by Ten Hag’s decision to put him on in the closing moments despite saying it would have been disrespectful to introduce him as a late substitute during the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City three weeks earlier.
Ronaldo, according to sources, was also upset at Ten Hag’s decision to ban him from the first team dressing room while being ordered to train alone in the aftermath of the 2-0 win over Tottenham and had to resort to asking one of the club’s young players to retrieve his trainers.
United will wait to discover the full extent of Ronaldo’s interview before making a final decision on his future. He has a contract until the summer, plus an option to extend his deal until June 2024.
The former Real Madrid and Juventus man is preparing for the World Cup with Portugal, who kick off their campaign in Qatar against Ghana on Nov. 24.