Gary Neville has explained what Cristiano Ronaldo must do this week to prevent a “messy ending” to his Manchester United career.
Ronaldo was dropped for the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday having refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham on Wednesday and storming down the Old Trafford tunnel and out of the stadium.
The striker released a statement of regret in which he admitted ‘the heat of the moment’ got to him, but manager Erik ten Hag faces a tough call as to whether to reintegrate him into the squad.
And Neville insists Ronaldo “can’t go beyond January 1” at United and must make his desire to leave clear to Ten Hag and the board this week.
Speaking on his podcast, Neville said: “The best thing for him to do this week is to go in and see Richard Arnold, John Murtough, Erik ten Hag, call a meeting and say ‘my time’s up here. Let me go to the World Cup, let me leave in January and choose a club of my choice.’
“We don’t want this messy ending to something that could be so great, which is Ronaldo ’s relationship and feeling about the club and vice versa. I get Cristiano’s point as well but there’s a way to go about it.
“He needs to end it now, for both parties. It can’t go beyond January 1.” Ronaldo has started just twice in the Premier League all season, his sole goal in the competition coming against Everton earlier this month.”
But according to The Athletic, the chances of Ronaldo being allowed to leave in January are slim.
The report states:
‘Ten Hag is adamant he wants Ronaldo as an option for the rest of the season, but first wants to hear what the Portuguese thinks about the situation and whether he can countenance not being a starter every week.
‘Should Ronaldo accept flexibility over his selection and express contrition, it is expected he will re-join first-team training. If he rejects a reduced role and presses to leave again then Ten Hag would allow him to once more explore finding a new club.
‘An alternative could be that United come to an agreement with him over his owed wage, negotiating a one-off sum worth less than the overall contracted commitment but in reality, this is a remote possibility. After spending over budget in the summer, United have scant room for manoeuvre financially and would not pay up Ronaldo so he can sign somewhere else.
‘Even as it is, January is shaping up to be a quiet month for United, and signing a replacement is not on the agenda unless a low-cost emergency solution can be found. Paying first to let Ronaldo go does not stack up from United’s perspective.’