Erik ten Hag admits he still hasn’t spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo since the Manchester United star asked to leave the club, and doesn’t know when the player will return to training less than three weeks before the new season starts.
Ronaldo has missed United’s tour of Thailand and Australia, officially due to a family matter, after the club blocked his attempts to quit Old Trafford this summer.
Ten Hag backed the 37-year-old to be fit for the new campaign even though there has been no contact or indication when Ronaldo will report back for training. ‘The same status as last week in Bangkok. No change,’ said the United boss in Melbourne on Monday.
‘He is training. I think we all know Ronaldo is a top professional and he will be fit – that is the last concern I have.’
Despite Ronaldo’s absence, Ten Hag suggested building a team around the five time Ballon d’Or winner and backed him to cope with United’s high-pressing approach next season.
‘I think Cristiano is capable of doing that. In his career he has shown everything,’ said Ten Hag. ‘I have set my demand. We want to play in a certain way. A top player can contribute and Ronaldo is an absolute top player in our squad.
‘The players dictate the way you play. Especially players who score goals because they are extremely important for a team. You construct your team around them.’
Ten Hag even claimed that an option to extend Ronaldo’s £500,000-a-week contract at United could be triggered to keep him at the club until 2024.