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loyal red Ronaldo wants to see out United contract even if club miss out on Champions League

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Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to stay with the club until the end of his contract. Photo: PA/Reuters

Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to stay with the club until the end of his contract. Photo: PA/Reuters

Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to stay with the club until the end of his contract. Photo: PA/Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo plans to see out the final year of his contract at Manchester United, despite the threat of the club missing out on Champions League football next season.

The Portugal striker’s hopes of winning the Champions League for a sixth time were ended this week when United crashed out in the last 16 to Atletico Madrid, and they now face a desperate fight to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

The prospect of playing no part in Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since his breakthrough season with Sporting Lisbon 20 years ago has sparked doubts over Ronaldo’s future at United beyond this season.

But, despite the team’s problems and the uncertainty over the identity of the next manager and the futures of a host of players, it is understood that Ronaldo has set his sights on staying with United next season. Ronaldo had spelt out his clear determination to win the Champions League again to United officials when he opted to rejoin the club on a two-year contract last summer, which included the option of a further 12 months.

But those ambitions will go unfulfilled if United - who will fall four points behind Arsenal if Mikel Arteta’s side beat Aston Villa Saturday - fail to qualify for the competition next season. Ronaldo has been left bitterly frustrated by United’s troubles and has spoken publicly about the mentality issues in the squad. There have also been reports of tensions with Harry Maguire over the United captaincy, which the England defender has denied.

Eyebrows were also raised when it emerged that an injured Ronaldo had flown home to Portugal on the weekend of the Manchester derby this month without the knowledge or permission of Ralf Rangnick, the interim United manager.

But, as things stand, Ronaldo does not intend to seek a move this summer and hopes the appointment of a new permanent manager and a solid transfer window can help bring about a marked upturn next season. Even in the event that things came to a head, any potential departure would be fraught with complications for both Ronaldo and United. United are in the market for a striker this summer.

But, with Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard due to leave the club as free agents at the end of the season, Mason Greenwood unavailable for selection, Marcus Rashford considering his future and Anthony Martial, who is on loan at Sevilla, not certain to stay, the prospect of losing Ronaldo would leave United incredibly light in attack.

As for Ronaldo, there are few, if any, clubs in Europe who are likely to be willing or able to match the 37-year-old’s contract at United, which is understood to be worth up to £775,000 a week and makes him comfortably the highest-paid player in the Premier League.

United’s search for a new manager is expected to gather pace over the next fortnight with the club not back in action until April 2 and the two leading candidates for the post, Ajax’s Erik ten Hag, and Paris St-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino, having seen their sides eliminated from the Champions League this week. Both Ten Hag and Pochettino have a keen interest in the United post.

United are also monitoring Thomas Tuchel’s situation at Chelsea, but have been given little encouragement at this stage that he will leave Stamford Bridge, despite the uncertainty at the club over its future owners.

United goalkeeper David de Gea has been dropped from Spain’s squad for this month’s friendlies against Albania and Iceland. Brentford’s David Raya has received a maiden call-up to the national team.

De Gea last played for Spain in October 2020, but was included in their squad for World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Sweden in November.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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