Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has rejected the notion that Cristiano Ronaldo needs to accept being a bit-part player after failing to secure a move away from Old Trafford.
Ronaldo had tried to engineer a move away from Old Trafford after requesting a transfer, but failed to find a suitor to satisfy his desire for Champions League football and to challenge for trophies prior to the window closing on Thursday.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has another year on his United contract, was used off the bench in a 26-minute cameo in United’s 1-0 win at Leicester City on Thursday. Ronaldo has only made one start this Premier League season, with four appearances off the bench.
The 37-year-old missed United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for personal reasons, and Ten Hag suggested that regaining match conditioning was behind his substitute role rather than falling down the pecking order, and that he may come into the starting XI in coming weeks.
“It is really early in the season,” Ten Hag said. “We have a squad, more than 11 starting XI players. That’s what you see now.
“Players who are now on the bench can play in one, two or three weeks.
“We are raising a team, they are sticking together, they fight for each other, cooperate. Now we have to step up further.”
Ronaldo is yet to score this term for United, but netted 24 goals from 38 appearances in all competitions last season, including a team-high 18 Premier League goals.
The Portuguese icon had been linked with Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Sporting CP, Napoli and Bayern Munich in recent weeks but nothing materialised.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 1, 2022
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