Manchester United have refused to budge from their hardline position that Cristiano Ronaldo must stay at Old Trafford after an opening round of talks with the unsettled star ended in impasse.
Not even the presence of Sir Alex Ferguson could help reach a breakthrough, with the former manager present at Carrington as Ronaldo ended his self-imposed exile and returned to the training ground on Tuesday morning.
Ferguson appeared along with United chief executive officer Richard Arnold, with the club insisting they were present for a pre-arranged football board launch. Former chief executive David Gill and former captain Bryan Robson were also seen arriving at Carrington, although United would not reveal the extent to which they were involved in talks between Erik ten Hag, Ronaldo and Jorge Mendes, the player’s agent.
The club, citing confidentiality, would not comment on the nature of the talks.
It is understood that a day of negotiations at the club’s training ground ended with the Portuguese forward still entrenched in his wish to quit the club. But, in response, United have been equally adamant that they will not move from their position that the 37-year-old will form part of Ten Hag’s first-team plans in the coming season.
United’s position therefore is unaltered and Ronaldo is not for sale, a stance that has not shifted in the slightest since the start of the month when he first informed them he wanted to leave.
That means it is for Ronaldo and Mendes to make the next move. The player and his agent who are believed to be equally unshakable in their desire for him to leave. Relations between player and the new manager remain cordial though, as it’s understood Ronaldo sat through a 90-minute tour debrief given by the Dutch coach alongside the rest of the squad.
Ronaldo, who insists he wishes to play Champions League football in the new season, is sticking to that position despite an apparent lack of viable alternatives.
The developments followed a dramatic day at Carrington that started with Ronaldo and Mendes arriving at around 10am, an hour before the rest of the United playing squad.
Ferguson followed shortly after Ronaldo, the player he first signed for United from Sporting Lisbon, when he was still a teenager, in 2003.
Arnold, who has been in regular contact with Mendes during Ronaldo’s absence from United’s recent 17-day tour of Thailand and Australia, was also at Carrington, to attend the routine football board meeting.
But with Ferguson having played a pivotal role in convincing Ronaldo to return to United last August, Arnold may well have tried to use the former manager to influence his protege to remain this summer.
With Ronaldo yet to join his team-mates in active football drills, it appears unlikely he will be involved in his club’s weekend friendlies, when they face Atletico Madrid in Oslo on Saturday lunchtime and host Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford late on Sunday afternoon.
That also leaves him highly unlikely to feature when his club kick off their new Premier League campaign against Brighton a week on Sunday.
But Ten Hag, who has also adopted a position that he wants Ronaldo to stay, will be hoping that the situation is resolved quickly and there is no repeat of the protracted transfer window activity with which he was involved last summer.
Ronaldo actually started last season playing for Juventus, despite stating his desire to leave the Italian club, and it was not until the final days of August that the star first appeared destined for Manchester City before signing a deal with United on August 27.
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