Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United striker wants to leave, but where would he go?

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United in 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo does not have an obvious next destination as he considers his Manchester United future, according to the BBC Radio 5 Live Euro League podcast team.

Julien Laurens, Guillem Balague and Raphael Honigstein have weighed in on Ronaldo’s future – the prolific striker has made no secret of his desire to leave Old Trafford to play in the Champions League.

United, after expressing concern about how the 37-year-old forward’s mood is affecting morale in the camp, are ready to let him go.

And Balague told Euro League’s podcast that “there are a bunch of reasons why he shouldn’t be at United”.

Ronaldo, who returned to Old Trafford for a second spell in August 2021, disagreed with the style of play that interim manager Ralf Rangnick tried to implement after replacing the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in early December.

He does not appear happier since the new boss Erik ten Hag arrived.

Balague said he would be “fascinated” to hear what Rangnick had to say about the situation while in charge.

“I think Rangnick had suggested getting rid of him and if that’s the case United shouldn’t be surprised that he took the first step,” he said.

“That Ronaldo wants to leave is clear – but because United are reactive or not brave enough, they may have been caught a little bit by what Ronaldo wants to do.”

“Simeone wants Ronaldo, but there is no room for him”

Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon and Borussia Dortmund have been linked with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, but there have been no official offers.

He wants to play until he’s 41, says Balague, who added that someone needs to tell him that “beggars can’t be voters.”

Balague said: “He can’t choose where to reach, but no one can talk to him like that. [Diego] Simeone wants him at Atletico but there is no room for him and the fans don’t want him.

“There’s no room in the salary cap at Atletico and I’m sure a lot of clubs think that – he’s got nowhere to go right now.”

Ronaldo is the highest paid player in the Premier League and his wages put him out of the reach of many clubs.

Laurens questioned why a player who was a legend at Real Madrid – becoming their all-time leading goalscorer with 451 goals in 438 games – would want to move to city rivals Atletico.

“I find it confusing – just to score a few more Champions League goals? I would struggle with that – I can’t get my head around it,” Laurens said.

Honigstein said signing Ronaldo puts a club “on the map” regardless of age or wage bill.

“Owners and investors are starting to think, ‘Wow, Ronaldo, fantastic – the exposure, the media, the merchandise – if we can get him, we’d be stupid not to.’

But Ronaldo likes to be the star man – something that looks increasingly unlikely at United, given that it remains unclear how he fits into Ten Hag’s system.

“We’ve seen so many clubs and coaches say they can’t see how he’s going to fit, they want someone younger or more dynamic,” Honigstein said.

Should Ronaldo not find a club that wants to take him, could United be forced to terminate his contract and let him go for free?

Honigstein said it would be “sensational” but “not out of the question”, with the problems in the locker room said to be toxic to the team environment.

He added: “There are no offers – it would be difficult to find a destination for him now.”

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