Cristiano Ronaldo was part of Manchester United’s tour de-brief on Tuesday after the club re-affirmed that the Portugal star is not for sale.
The flash of photographers’ lightbulbs heralded his 10am arrival as Ronaldo rolled back into United’s Carrington training complex for showdown talks over his future, resplendent in his £168,000 blue Bentley.
Ronaldo has missed all of the club’s pre-season so far after being given compassionate leave and did not travel with the rest of the squad to Thailand and Australia
Alongside him was his trusted agent Jorge Mendes who has been trying to engineer a move away to Atletico Madrid.
Legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson also arrived at Carrington but it turned out to be for a pre-arranged board meeting with David Gill and Richard Arnold
Ronaldo also stopped briefly to greet former boss Sir Alex Ferguson and captain Bryan Robson in the club canteen ahead of the meeting at 11.30.
Ferguson and Robson were at Carrington for a pre-scheduled lunch with chief executive Richard Arnold and David Gill, the club’s former ceo.
Arnold was expected to meet Mendes later on to discuss the Portuguese star’s future but the club were unwilling to detail events.
Mendes has indicated he has been impressed by Arnold’s approach and willingness to listen. There has also been an attempt from Arnold to convince Ronaldo to stay and as of last night the club’s official stance remains the same: he is not for sale.
However, that has not deterred Mendes from attempting to find a new club for his star client.
Atletico Madrid have shown a willingness to get a deal done but only if Ronaldo takes a substantial cut on his £360,000 a week basic salary and United let him leave for free. United though do not see a reason to let their 24-goal top scorer leave for free and have also dismissed the idea of extending his contract before considering a loan proposal as ‘nonsense’
Ronaldo, 37, has been working to maintain his fitness but it remains far from clear whether he will be a Manchester United player for much longer
United face Wrexham in a behind closed doors friendly on Wednesday but Ronaldo is unlikely to figure, that platform will be utilised by Eriksen and Martinez who shared a ride into Carrington today to underwhelming fanfare as a mere sideshow to the main event.
They will look for much-needed match fitness ahead of United’s next two friendlies, the timely fixture of Atletico Madrid in Oslo on Saturday, while a second string will play Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford 24 hours later.
The flash of photographers’ lightbulbs at 10am on Tuesday had earlier heralded Ronaldo’s return to the club. Resplendent in his £168,000 blue Bentley and sat alongside him, his trusted agent Mendes.
The sense of occasion was amplified by the arrival of Ferguson almost an hour later but the club’s former manager was officially there for a pre-arranged meeting discussing United’s broader plans.
Many staff wondered whether their once great leader had arrived to play another hand in trying to convince Ronaldo to stay at his beloved club.
New manager Erik ten Hag gave a debrief of the pre-season tour to Ronaldo on Tuesday
That though was left to Arnold and manager Ten Hag who has maintained that there is a place in his remodelled team for the Portuguese captain.
Ronaldo would have to play catch-up on the training ground to be ready for the new season
Ronaldo had told United of his desire to leave last month. He has never played in the Europa League during his glittering career and had no desire to start now; his wish is to move to a team fit to challenge for the Champions League. His ambition has been to finish at the top.
Ronaldo had been given compassionate leave for a family issue and United’s first team squad made do without him for the duration of their 17-day trip around Thailand and Australia.
They returned wearily on Sunday afternoon to be met with news that Ronaldo would be coming back.
He flew in by private jet from Madrid at 9.30 on Monday evening and has underlined he will be professional.
Should he stay though, Ten Hag will still need him to be fit and is unlikely to bring him straight back into the team after Anthony Martial earned the right to lead the attack by scoring three goals in four friendly games.
Ten Hag said he spoke to Ronaldo before the tour, explaining: ‘I had a good talk. That is between Cristiano and me. What I can confirm is we had a really good conversation together.’
Anthony Martial has impressed in the centre forward position during the pre-season tour
The words that come next will be the most important but Ronaldo’s presence at the team’s de-briefing offers some hope of peace.
Ten Hag has already made it clear that he needs another forward, even with Ronaldo, as United pursue a deal for Brazil winger Antony who is valued at £68million by Ajax. Such a purchase is not so straight forward, just ask Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong.
United have had too many sagas already to endure this summer and do not need another.