Cristiano Ronaldo has been brought back into the Manchester United squad for Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Sheriff Tiraspol.
Ronaldo was dropped for the weekend’s Premier League draw with Chelsea as a ‘consequence’ for refusing to come on in the previous game against Tottenham, leaving the bench walking off down the tunnel before the final whistle.
The player himself later said it happened in the ‘heat of the moment’ and pledged his commitment to his teammates, although stopped short of an outright apology for his behaviour.
Ronaldo has since returned to training and could even be in contention to start against Sheriff given United’s lack of other options in the ‘number nine’ role – Anthony Martial remains sidelined and Marcus Rashford has had to start every game after not long coming back from injury himself.
“Cristiano will be in the squad tomorrow,” manager Erik ten Hag said to journalists on Wednesday.
“It’s not difficult. But I think we said everything and we answered all the questions, he was out for one game and is back in the squad as usual. You don’t have to [ask more questions] because we will not answer anymore, so all the questions, I think, are everything we explained
“We have to focus on the game tomorrow. We have an important game because we want to be number one in the group. It’s done, he’s back, focus on the game, that’s important that Cristiano is involved in the squad tomorrow.”
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United and Ronaldo are prepared to part ways if a suitable offer is made in January. 90min understands the club would consider releasing him as a free agent, but that is not seen as the ideal option because of the expense of effectively cancelling his contract – even if mutually agreed.
Sporting CP, Ronaldo’s first professional club, had shown interest in exploring a deal late in the summer window but appear to have now ruled themselves out after head coach Ruben Amorim said this week that the 37-year-old’s wages would be financially prohibitive.