December 3, 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo again misses pre-season training, the third day he was not reported due to family problems. Manchester United He agreed to allow their star striker to postpone his return to training before the start of the season, but club sources have not yet given any indication of when his absence will end.

United’s first team is set to fly in the pre-season tour of Australia and Thailand on Friday. As one of the sport’s most notable stars, and certainly the biggest name in Erik ten Hag’s squad, Ronaldo’s absence will be dire.

Practically nothing has changed since then Ronaldo told United last week that he wanted to leave the club If an acceptable bid comes for his services. The club’s position remains the same: they are not good at selling last season’s top scorers. The last year of his contract is expected to expire. Ten Hag and Ronaldo have yet to meet for talks that could change this situation.

Meanwhile, the latter’s announcement of his desire to exit did not prompt a string of bids to land on the desk of director of football John Murtaugh. Since Ronaldo left Old Trafford for the first time in 14 years, he has appeared to be able to adjust events at will on and off the field. If he wants a new contract, manager or teammate, it will only be a matter of time before he gets what he wants. Now there are many who wonder if the goals are worth it.

It doesn’t mean there are no suitors at all. Chelsea They’re keeping tabs and new chairman and part-owner Todd Boelly – who is also the interim sporting director – spoke to Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes last week. They are said to have the most tangible interest in serving the 37-year-old, although it’s tempting to offer a penny to Thomas Tuchel’s ideas.

The Chelsea boss has always favored attackers who can be the first line of defense – he explained his philosophical approach after last season’s 4-0 win over Juventus (a match where his third team put in as many successful pressures as Ronaldo did in February) in simple terms. “We attack together and defend together,” he said. He won’t get much of a first from a player who, according to fbref, averaged one and a half less pressure per 90 minutes than any other striker in the Premier League last season.

If anyone wanted to prove Ronaldo’s case at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel offered at least some ammunition, saying late last season that Chelsea needed to “underperform if we want to be closer to the top two. I’m not pointing fingers, I’m not blaming anyone, But we need excessive performance from everyone.” Assuming the German cites over-performance in relation to expected goals (xG), you can imagine why those involved in Stamford Bridge recruiting are tempted to have one of the most prolific characters the sport has ever seen.

They may also note that since 2018 when he joined Juventus, Ronaldo has averaged 0.61 xG no penalty per 90 minutes of league play. Scored 0.6 goals without penalty kicks. This xG figure is 0.12 above Chelsea’s highest return last season – which came from often clumsy boots Timo Werner – Though, of course, he came in two teams created almost entirely to serve Ronaldo’s scoring skills.

With both United and Juventus, Ronaldo stepped into his central role and production. The by-product was fewer goals and fewer points, culminating in the Scudetto winners dropping to fourth and only the Red Devils offside to achieve the Europa League. That’s not to say the perennial scorer won’t bring any value to whatever team he’s on, but the days when he had to be a sure-footed starter for the team’s biggest matches are over. You might not want to build 11 in his service, but Ronaldo could be a great option off the bench for Tuchel, as long as Boehly doesn’t mind paying one of the world’s most exorbitant football salaries for the 12th man.

It is likely that Bayern Munich will come to the same conclusion, which is that Ronaldo would be a great backup option behind Sadio Mane or Robert Lewandowski, someone who could make an impact in the Champions League more with the strange narrative chemistry that imbues him rather than any tactical master plan Julian Nagelsmann might build. Napoli may not do so, but once the two were linked, there were indications that they would not pursue an opportunity to bring the Portuguese forward back to Serie A.

The most likely possibility appears to be that when Ronaldo returns from his personal absence leave, he will find himself tied to United for another year. Certainly, this is what betting markets see as the most likely outcome of a 37-year-old earning half a million pounds a week.

He may want to find a way back to the Champions League. United’s internal view may change even with the arrival of Ten Hag to see that the compromises his players have to make in seventh place are not compensated for in the goal weighting. But even if that happens, there is no certainty that Ronaldo can get what he wants. Three days after he put it into oblivion, there may be more to come.

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