Cristiano Ronaldo has been dropped from Manchester United’s squad for Saturday’s game at Chelsea.
The punishment was imposed by Erik ten Hag on a day when it emerged that the forward has such a fractious relationship with some of the manager’s coaching staff that he keeps his communication with certain members to a minimum.
Ten Hag has omitted Ronaldo as a result of the player refusing to come on as a substitute during Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham and walking down the tunnel before the end of the match.
The decision has been backed by the club’s hierarchy and Ronaldo will not train with the first team as they prepare for the game at Stamford Bridge. Ten Hag has still asked him to report to the training ground.
It is thought Ten Hag would countenance Ronaldo leaving in the January window given the 37-year-old’s discontent at being at the club. Richard Arnold, the chief executive, would back the manager over this, though the forward’s wages of about £500,000 a week means it may be difficult to agree a deal with another club.
The player’s contract expires in June and one option may be to offer him a payoff of about half the salary he is due. If done now, that would amount to about £8m. Another possibility would be to allow him to move on loan and continue paying a proportion of his wages.
While Ten Hag is aware of Ronaldo’s reluctance to engage with certain members of his inner circle. The Portugal international voiced frustration regarding some of the conditions at the club’s Carrington training base before the Dutchman took over in the summer and was listened to.
This and his professionalism and willingness to mentor young squad members was well received by teammates, though his popularity may have been affected by his exit down the Old Trafford tunnel on Wednesday.