Cristiano Ronaldo could cut his second spell at Manchester United short after reportedly growing disillusioned with the current state of affairs at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese sealed a sensational return to the Premier League in August, 12 years after he left United for Real Madrid for a then-world record £80million fee.
The 37-year-old resumed where he’d left off at Old Trafford, scoring five goals in his first four appearances in all competitions and proving every bit the talismanic figure United were desperate for.
Cristiano Ronaldo could reportedly leave Manchester United at the end of the season
However, with the Red Devils struggling for consistency the excitement generated by Ronaldo’s return soon fizzled out and, according to The Sun, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is considering leaving the club again for a second time before his two-year deal runs out in the summer of 2023.
The report suggests Ronaldo has been left far from impressed by United’s decline on and off the pitch, with the club falling behind Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea over the past decade.
United have gone eight years without lifting the Premier League trophy and this season they are already out of both domestic cups and currently sixth in the league, a whopping 21 points behind leaders City.
And unless Ralf Rangnick can somehow inspire his players to pull off a highly unlikely Champions League triumph, United face the prospect of ending the season without silverware for the fifth straight year.
The 37-year-old missed a penalty against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup last week
By contrast, Ronaldo won nine major trophies in his first six seasons at Old Trafford, including three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
Similarly, the Euro 2016 winner is also reportedly unimpressed with the quality of the squad, which isn’t on the same level of those of the top Premier League clubs nor of the United teams Ronaldo played in under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The club has spent north of £900million on players over the past nine years, but have failed to mount a credible title challenge over the period.
Ronaldo’s arrival in the summer was meant to address the issue but after starting the season on the front foot and scoring crucial late winners in the Champions League against Villarreal and Atalanta – and an injury time equaliser against the latter- the goals have dried up for him.
Ronaldo won nine major honours with United in his first six seasons at Old Trafford
The five-time Champions League winner hasn’t scored in his last five Premier League games and has found the net just twice in his last nine appearances in all competitions.
Ronaldo was benched for United’s trip to Turf Moor against Burnley on Tuesday and was a largely peripheral figure when he came on with just over 20 minutes left.
While he remains the Red Devils’ top scorer with 14 goals in all competitions, his current run of form represents his worst drought in front of goal in club football for 12 years.
United had a combined 52 shots against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and Burnley, but found the net just twice and Rangnick conceded Ronaldo and his fellow strikers must do better in front of goal.
Ronaldo was on the bench at Turf Moor on Tuesday and came on with 20 minutes left
He then ran straight down the tunnel after the final whistle following the draw against Burnley
‘It’s not only about Cristiano Ronaldo. He should score more goals, it’s obvious,’ said United’s interim manager.
‘We are creating chances and opportunities in the last couple of games but just didn’t score enough goals.
‘It’s not just an issue with Cristiano, it’s an issue with other players, especially the offensive players that we don’t score enough goals if you bear in mind how many chances we create.’
The Portugal international also threw a strop after being subbed at Brentford back in January
Ronaldo rushed off the pitch straight after the final whistle at Turf Moor, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by Rangnick.
The German, however, insisted he had no plans to speak to the Portuguese about his behaviour, despite the fact Ronaldo also threw a strop after being substituted during the 3-1 win at Brentford a month ago.
‘I think he knows himself what he should do or should not do, and what he has to do. Our focus is on those things we can influence,’ Rangnick added.
‘Why he left the pitch directly after the final whistle, maybe he was also disappointed that we only got a draw and that he didn’t score.
‘It’s a question you have to ask to Cristiano. I only realised that after the game. This is not a question I can answer.’
The report adds that Ronaldo remains determined to impress Rangnick and is determined to work on his game to ensure he can sustain the kind of high intensity pressing the German demands.
The former Real Madrid and Juventus manager has reportedly privately told some of his closest friends that at long last his body may be slowing down.
Notoriously fastidious about his diet and training, the 37-year-old has even installed an oxygen chamber at home to help his body cope with the demands of Premier League football.