Cristiano Ronaldo may trigger Man Utd’s pursuit of Frenkie de Jong to collapse
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Cristiano Ronaldo is currently in the spotlight. The Manchester United star wants to leave Old Trafford behind, just a year after his blockbuster return from Juventus. And if he’s serious, and makes a fuss, it’s possible the Red Devils will have to abandon their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong so they can stretch their budget instead.
It emerged over the weekend that Ronaldo had told United he wants to go providing the club receive a ‘suitable offer’ for their No 7.
That’s a blow for Erik ten Hag, with the Dutchman previously saying he wants work with the 37-year-old as he looks to take the Premier League by storm.
United aren’t willing to sell Ronaldo, however. They want him to stay, insisting he’s still got a year on his contract left to run.
Yet things could soon get ugly.
The Portugal international won’t be attending training today for ‘family reasons’. That’s something the club have accepted, even though they know that will only add to the speculation.
But, professional though Ronaldo is, it can’t be ruled out that he’ll try every trick in the book to seal a move away.
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Back in 2008, when the Portugal international was first strutting his stuff at Old Trafford, the Red Devils feared him going on strike.
Ronaldo threatened to do this in the hope he’d get a move to Real Madrid, forcing a response to the club that said: “If Cristiano decides to go on strike the club would have no hesitation in suspending him and stopping his wages with immediate effect.
“We hope it won’t come to this.”
This version of Ronaldo has even more reasons to strike, with the Portugal international aware he’s entering the twilight years of his career.
He doesn’t want to spend them playing in the Europa League, rather than the Champions League.
And Ronaldo knows the power he carries, both at Old Trafford and across the footballing world, which gives him all the aces.
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If things do get ugly, and the 37-year-old really pushes and pushes to go, then United will have to sell him.
And it’s possible that, if a deal with Barcelona for De Jong isn’t wrapped up by then, they’ll have to abandon their pursuit of the 25-year-old.
They don’t want to do that. Ten Hag, in particular, feels De Jong is needed as he looks to bring back the glory days.
However, with United working on a limited budget, they could end up needing to replace Ronaldo with an affordable signing.
Their kitty is believed to be close to £120million and would have been more if they’d not finished sixth in the table under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last term.
De Jong would eat into a sizeable amount of that, amid claims it will take an initial £60m to lure him away from Catalonia.
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And if United need to sign a forward, as well as other targets such as Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, they could be faced with a difficult decision.
Do they sign De Jong and then try and sign a cheap option up top? Andrea Belotti, in particular, has been put forward by fans on social media.
Or do they abandon their pursuit and save their money for a top centre-forward to rival the likes of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez?
These are uncertain times for United, and Ronaldo.
And what ultimately happens with the former Juventus and Real Madrid star is something only time will tell.
Regarding Ronaldo, the United star did previously suggest he’d be happy to work under Ten Hag at Old Trafford.
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“I know that he has done a fantastic job at Ajax, and that he is an experienced coach, but we have to give him time,” he said.
“Things must change the way he wants. If you do well, all of Manchester United will succeed, so I wish you all the best.
“We are all happy and excited [with the arrival], not only as players, but as fans as well. We have to believe that next year we can win titles.”
And Ten Hag, speaking before arriving in England, also made it clear he valued the Portugal international.
“Ronaldo is a giant, because of what he’s already shown and I think he’s still very ambitious,” Ten Hag said.
“Of course I would like to keep him. He’s been very important to Manchester United this year and can produce great statistics.”
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