Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a swift Old Trafford exit, with reports claiming he could look to leave after just one season back with the club
When Cristiano Ronaldo completed his stunning Manchester United return at the end of August, few would have anticipated that by February, rumours of an exit would be swirling.
But that is exactly how it has panned out against a backdrop of managerial upheaval and below-par results on the field.
On an individual basis, to say Ronaldo has struggled would be a stretch – with 15 goals in all competitions, he is comfortably the club’s top scorer.
But there have been question marks about his ability to still thrive in the Premier League now aged 37. The appointment of Ralf Rangnick as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ’s successor raised further doubts, with the German insistent on implementing a high-pressing style of play.
There have also been clear signs of frustration on the pitch, with Ronaldo openly admitting he isn’t happy to be competing for league positions, rather than league titles.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Will Man Utd win the Champions League this season? Let us know in the comments
“I don’t accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League,” he said in January.
“We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I’m not going to mention it here because I don’t think it’s ethical on my part to say that.
“What I can say is we can do better – all of us. Manchester [United] belongs to important things, so we have to change that.
“I don’t want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I’m here to try to win, to compete.”
Sunday Mirror Sport understands that if United fail to qualify for the Champions League, he will look to cut short his two-year arrangement and seek one final move.
It is believed that if Ronaldo was to make it clear he wants to leave, Old Trafford bosses wouldn’t stand in his way.
But on the eve of their biggest game of the season so far, Ronaldo has reaffirmed exactly where his Manchester United ambitions lie.
After landing back in Madrid to face Atletico in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday night, the former Real superstar posted on social media: “Getting ready for the return of the biggest club competition in the world. Let’s go!”
Ronaldo is the only player to have won Europe’s biggest prize on five occasions, once with United and then four with Real Madrid.
But with his last winners’ medal coming back in 2018 and father time creeping up on him, he is more desperate than ever to restock his mantelpiece.
United face a stern test at the Wanda Metropolitano, with United looking to set-up the tie for a routine home leg in a fortnight’s time.
But if there were any lingering doubts on where Ronaldo still sees himself, it’s at the pinnacle of the game. Playing in the biggest matches, in what he calls the biggest competition….United have been warned.