The quagmire of Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo, during the match between Manchester United and Brentford. / John Sibley (Reuters)

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The Portuguese cannot find a team to fulfill his claim to leave Manchester United and be able to play in the Champions League

Oscar Bellot

The future of Cristiano Ronaldo is still up in the air when there are barely two weeks left before the closing of the transfer market. After Manchester United was left out of the next edition of the Champions League, the Funchal star conveyed to the Red Devils ownership his intention to leave Old Trafford, where he returned last summer after closing a three-season journey in the Juventus, and summoned his agent, Jorge Mendes, to sound out possible suitors. But time is running out and the powerful representative still cannot find a place for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, whose doors have already been closed by several of the continent's giants. Distanced from his new coach and increasingly isolated in a locker room that has become a powder keg due to the bad start to the season starring the Mancunian team, the Portuguese is, at 37 years old, between a rock and a hard place.

The sixth place with which Manchester United closed their participation in the Premier League last season broke Cristiano Ronaldo's patience. For the first time since Alex Ferguson recruited him at the age of 18 for a then hegemonic Manchester United in the Premier, the Portuguese would be deprived of continuing to nurture his legend in the competition that most contributed to elevating him to the pinnacle of planetary football. The Champions League, the tournament that he won once with the British team and on four occasions as Real Madrid's flagship, and of which he is the all-time top scorer with 141 goals scored in the 187 games he has played, would be off limits this season for those who It has been one of his emblems unless the Madeira attacker abandoned his 'red devil' status to embark on another project with a guaranteed place in the old European Cup.

For this reason, Cristiano moved the machinery, summoning Jorge Mendes to look for a way out. At that time, Manchester United did not contemplate parting with its star. Despite the decline in his performance, the 24 goals he billed in the last season was still a considerable record and Joel Glazer, executive co-president of the English entity, considered that he was still too valuable an asset to open doors for him. Erik ten Hag thought something similar, the Dutch coach whom United owned entrusted with the difficult mission of reviving a drifting team after a very long journey through the desert.

But the attitude of the crack, who joined the preseason late, although with the club's permission after losing one of the two babies he was expecting with his partner, and then starred in a resounding rudeness when leaving Old Trafford at half-time in the friendly that faced the red devils with Rayo Vallecano at the end of July, it has only made the atmosphere even more rarer in a changing room on fire due to internal disputes and the bad start to the season, which has placed Manchester United as bottom of the Premier once the first two days have been completed. Hence, according to the British press, the club is already being sold.

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But Cristiano Ronaldo has been coming face to face with the harsh reality of the market for weeks. Jorge Mendes explored the path of a return to Spain already last summer, when he ran into the refusal of Real Madrid, focused on the growth of his young values. The agent returned to the fray weeks ago, flirting with Barça and Atlético. But Joan Laporta bet everything on Robert Lewandowski's letter and the red and white option was derailed, among other factors, by the rejection that his figure aroused among the mattress parish.

The representative has not had any luck in the Bundesliga either, as Bayern opted for Sadio Mané and the emerging Mathys Tel to plug the gap up front, nor in Serie A, where neither Milan nor Inter could satisfy their economic claims. With Mbappé, Messi and Neymar as headliners, PSG has not even considered entering the race for the star and, within the Premier, Chelsea is the only club that keeps its name on the table, but there are discrepancies at this respect between the new owner, Todd Boehly, in favor of his incorporation, and the technician, Thomas Tuchel, who is not convinced. Remote seems like the most romantic possibility, a return to Sporting de Portugal to finish his career where he started it, since it would mean moving away from the first line no matter how much the Lisbon team is going to play in the Champions League and the cache would have to be significantly reduced.

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