Cristiano Ronaldo made his first pre-season appearance for Manchester United in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano after a summer of speculation about his future.
Pictures of Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford before the final whistle emerged on social media, but United has explained he was one of several players to do so, and it is not an issue for the club.
Ronaldo, who has told United of his desire to leave the club on multiple occasions, played for the first half before being taken off for eventual goal scorer Amad Diallo.
The 37-year-old’s reduced minutes came as no surprise, with manager Erik ten Hag admitting Ronaldo is a long way behind his team-mates in terms of fitness ahead of the match at Old Trafford.
“He is not on the level of the rest of the squad because he missed a lot of weeks,” the Dutchman told Viaplay. “But he needs games and he needs training, a lot.”
Ronaldo was absent for United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia while he dealt with a family issue and only returned to training on Tuesday, when he and his agent, Jorge Mendes, held further talks about his future.
United are insistent that they will not sanction the sale of the four-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is positively in the plans of Ten Hag.
Despite Ronaldo’s insistence on leaving, there was no sign of ill-will toward him from the Old Trafford faithful, with fans greeting him with big cheers as he emerged from the passage. He posted on his social media channels after the game: “Happy to be back”.
It remains unclear where Ronaldo’s potential exit routes lie, as Chelsea no longer appears to be an option while Bayern Munich and Atlético have appeared to publicly rule out a move.
The game against Rayo Vallecano was United’s final match of pre-season before their Premier League opener against Brighton next Sunday.