Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground as he prepares for crunch talks with Erik ten Hag about his Old Trafford future.
The 37-year-old has missed the first three weeks of the club’s pre-season – including the whole of their tour of Thailand and Australia – after being given compassionate leave for a family issue.
It came against a backdrop of Ronaldo asking to leave United this summer as he feels he is unable to compete for the biggest trophies at Old Trafford.
Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at Carrington as he prepares for crunch talks with Erik ten Hag
The forward’s agent Jorge Mendes arrived with him on Tuesday morning at around 10am, an hour before United’s players were due to arrive for training.
Also at Carrington is Sir Alex Ferguson – who first signed Ronaldo for United as an 18-year-old in 2003.
The star played at Old Trafford for six seasons under the legendary manager before departing for Real Madrid, but he still considers Ferguson as an important mentor.
The Scot was influential in Ronaldo returning to the Red Devils last summer as he persuaded the forward not to join rivals Manchester City, so United will hope he can have a similar impact again.
It will be the first time that Ronaldo has spoken to Erik ten Hag since his shock request to leave
Legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson also arrived at Carrington ahead of the showdown talks
In May, the Mirror reported that the pair had been holding regular chats about Ronaldo’s future as they live near each other in Cheshire.
It is claimed that they discussed how United’s season fell apart as they recorded their worst ever Premier League points total, but Ferguson urged Ronaldo to stay at least another year to ‘protect his legacy’.
Completing the set of key figures involved in the showdown talks, United chief executive Richard Arnold was also pictured arriving at the training ground earlier in the morning. Erik ten Hag was also one of the first figures to arrive.
Ten Hag talked to Ronaldo when he took over at the end of last season, but it will be the first time the two men have spoken since the player asked to go.
Contact between the two camps has been maintained by Arnold and Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes who has been hawking his client around Europe’s top clubs.
Ronaldo’s return is being seen as a positive sign, although it’s still unclear whether he is ready to commit to United for another season or re-iterate his desire to be sold.
United chief executive Richard Arnold will also be involved in discussions over the star’s future
United were still adamant on Monday night that Ronaldo is not for sale and remains part of Ten Hag’s plans for the new season.
The five-time Balon d’Or winner has been keeping himself fit in Lisbon, but he may not be ready to go straight back into full training with the rest of the squad who had Monday off after flying back from Perth on Sunday.
Ten Hag has remained consistently tight-lipped when facing questions on the club legend’s future, and has suggested Ronaldo will remain a United player at least another season.
He has 12 months remaining on the deal he signed last season after his arrival from Juventus, but there is an option for a further year.
Ronaldo has missed all of the club’s pre-season so far after being given compassionate leave
Ten Hag said, when questioned in Australia: ‘I am well informed, he also has also an option [of another year].
‘Yes [he could stay beyond this season], but to be honest, of course, I have signed here for three years, but in football it’s short-term as well. We have to win from the start. So I don’t look that far ahead.
‘I have a strategy, it’s a process, it takes time but in the end, we have to make sure from the outset there is a winning team.’
The club initially accepted Ronaldo’s stance, although ten Hag has frequently reiterated this summer that the player is not for sale and he would like him to remain a part of the side in the new season.
Ronaldo has asked to leave United this summer as he feels he is unable to compete for trophies
The forward showed off his ripped physique in the gym as he missed United’s pre-season tour
Despite his status in the game, there were very few interested parties when the Portuguese forward announced his intentions to leave United this summer, with only one concrete bid from an unnamed Saudi Arabian club.
Chelsea, Bayern Munich and even former club Real Madrid all turned down the opportunity to move for one the game’s greatest ever players, and surprisingly the strongest rumours were with former nemeses Atletico Madrid.
Although it is understood that Ronaldo would take a cut on his £500,000-a-week wages, Atletico would need to sell players to fund the move.
However Atleti have distanced themselves from a potential move, and the rumours sparked outrage amongst the club’s fanbase, as they made it very clear they did not want to sign a player who spent nine years at their city rivals, during which time he twice denied them a Champions League trophy in the 2014 and 2016 finals.
Ronaldo regularly haunted Atletico Madrid during his time with city rivals Real Madrid
The forward has not been shy about sharing his own pre-season training regime with his followers, and has clearly sustained his well-documented devotion to his own physical fitness.
He initially hinted that he might be staying at the Red Devils after tweeting a photo of himself in the gym in club shorts, although he has kept his silence since on that front, and no further insinuation has been forthcoming as yet.
The Red Devils have signed three players so far this summer, despite a delayed start to their business in the market.
They have completed deals for Christian Eriksen, who joined for free after his short-term contract expired at Brentford, after luring Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord and signed versatile centre-back Lisandro Martinez for £55million from Ajax.