Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United hasn’t gone to plan – failing to win a trophy this season – and it’s unclear whether he will still be at the club come September
Gary Neville believes Cristiano Ronaldo may have to accept a limited role if he wants to stay at Manchester United next season and rates his chances of leaving at “50-50”.
The Portuguese icon re-joined United from Juventus last August and some believed he would be the final piece to their puzzle. United, however, have failed to win a trophy and slipped to fifth in the Premier League – despite 18 goals in all competitions from Ronaldo.
And Neville, who played alongside Ronaldo during his United days, believes his former teammate’s Old Trafford future depends on the club’s next managerial appointment as well as accepting a lack of consistent game time. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick will start a two-year consultancy job this summer.
“I’m unsure, it depends who the manager is and what the project is for the new manager,” Neville told Sky Sports when asked for his thoughts on Ronaldo’s future.
“Does he want to build a young squad that’s athletic and progressive? Ronaldo can play in that – but if he wants to play every single week, which would seem to be the case, then it may be that the manager wants a fresh start.
“He might want young players that are basically pressing high from the front and can create high level of play in that way. If he wants to play in a different way and can accept that he will have a great goalscorer in the team who is basically someone who has basically been the greatest goalscorer of all time then yes, there will be a position for him.
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“But I think it would have to be a Ronaldo that would accept that he wouldn’t play every single week and there would be moments that he wouldn’t play and I think that’s the big thing. He doesn’t seem to take that too well, which is a good thing, he’s obviously driven and wants to play every single match.
“But I’m 50-50. And I’m not just 50-50 from a point of view of whether the club wants to keep him, but whether Cristiano wants to stay in Manchester and play at the club sort of into his 38th and 39th year.”
Speaking last month, World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf urged Ronaldo to consider retirement. The Frenchman said: “Do you know what? I think there is a time where you have to think, ‘What do I do with my life and my career?’
“And maybe it’s time for Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of his career to wonder and have a discussion with himself, and maybe some of his family, to know what he has to do for the rest of his career, if there is a future in his career.
“I don’t want to watch Ronaldo and have pity because he’s been on the top for so many years. I don’t want him to be a normal player. He’s been an exceptional player for so long. I’d prefer him to give up his career at the top.”
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