Manchester United legend Gary Neville has explained why the club should let Cristiano Ronaldo leave this summer.
Ronaldo has only played 45 minutes in pre-season with United set to kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Brighton on Sunday afternoon.
After news broke that the Portugal captain wanted to leave the club, it was revealed that he would not return to training when he was scheduled to do so, citing ‘family reasons’.
He returned last week and made his first appearance under new manager Erik ten Hag in Sunday’s draw against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s situation is hogging the headlines in what should be a relatively optimistic campaign for the Red Devils.
The 37-year-old, who is one of the best footballers of all time, is (perhaps) surprisingly short of options, with a team in Saudi Arabia the only club to submit a bid since his transfer request.
Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Napoli and Atletico Madrid have all been linked with the United striker, but none are expected to sign him.
Ronaldo was spotted leaving Old Trafford before full-time of Sunday’s friendly and it was reported that he was one of many players to do so, meaning it was no big deal.
However, Ten Hag then labelled it “unacceptable” and insisted Ronaldo should have stayed “until the end” of the game.
And Neville thinks the saga should be put to an end. He believes the former Real Madrid man should be allowed to leave the club as he is currently “running the shop” – something that should not be happening at any club.
“Ronaldo’s achievements in football have gone beyond anything that anybody could have wished for and imagined,” Neville said on the latest episode of Sky Bet’s The Overlap (quotes via Sport Bible).
“He will go down as one of the top players of all time and always will be. What happens this summer at Manchester United will be forgotten about in 20 years.
“But it’s unpalatable for me to watch as an ex-Manchester United captain, thinking that at this moment in time the star player in the dressing room is playing up.
“It has happened at times over the last few years, where you had [Paul] Pogba’s agent – not necessarily Pogba – but his agent always playing up.
“You can’t have your star player in a club running the shop. You cannot have it. So when Sir Alex Ferguson in the past moved players on, it’s because that player needed to be moved on.
“I know Manchester United fans want Ronaldo to stay. But if Ronaldo wants to leave, Manchester United – in my mind – should facilitate that.”