Cristiano Ronaldo has told Manchester United he wants to leave because he does not believe the club can win the Premier League next season and he wants to play in the Champions League.
Ronaldo had hoped to see more ambition from United at the start of Erik ten Hag’s tenure as manager and is dismayed that the club have not yet made a signing. United still hope to convince the 37-year-old to stay, not least with their work in the transfer market in the coming days and weeks.
Ronaldo has no agreement to join another club. His agent, Jorge Mendes, has been exploring options for weeks, with Chelsea and Bayern Munich among the clubs he has talked to, and will continue to look for destinations for the Portugal international but there are no advanced negotiations.
Ronaldo, who scored 24 goals for United last season after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus, has a contact to the end of next season which includes an option for a further year.
United are close to signing the Netherlands left-back Tyrell Malacia, who is due to fly to Manchester on Sunday for two days of medical tests after a fee of €15m (£12.9m) plus €2m in add-ons was agreed with Feyenoord, and are working on two much more costly deals that they hope could be the sort to persuade Ronaldo to stay.
They have bid €41m plus €4m in add-ons for the centre-back Lisandro Martínez – short of Ajax’s valuation – and are continuing to pursue the Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
There is an agreement in principle with Barcelona to pay a guaranteed €65m and €20m in add-ons but the structure of the add-ons has not been finalised and personal terms need to be agreed with the 25-year-old, who has not been seeking a move and had hoped to play in the Champions League next season. United are in the Europa League after finishing sixth in the Premier League.
Martínez wants to move to England but United face competition for the Argentina international from Arsenal. United’s bid is bigger than Arsenal’s but Ajax value the 24-year-old at €50m. Ten Hag hopes his relationship with Martínez from three seasons together at Ajax could work in his favour if a fee and personal terms are settled.
The loss of Ronaldo would be a blow to United, partly because he scored 14 more goals than any other player at the club last season – Bruno Fernandes was second on that list – but also because this episode is the latest damning signal of their decline. Ronaldo has played in the Champions League each season since his first move to United in 2003 and has won it five times, though not since 2018.
On Saturday United confirmed that the goalkeeper Dean Henderson had joined Nottingham Forest on a season’s loan. There is no option for Forest to buy the England international. Forest are also poised to bring in Giulian Biancone, a 22-year-old French defender, from Troyes.