Cristiano Ronaldo will not be a Manchester United player next season. That now seems almost certain.
Ronaldo was not even named on the bench for Sunday’s massive Manchester derby at the Etihad.
The official line was that Ronaldo was injured with an alleged hip problem.
But, predictably, there have been all kinds of reports that the real reason Ronaldo is missing is not a physical one.
The most controversial story doing the rounds arrived via an Instagram post from one of Ronaldo’s friends who he follows on the social media platform.
The post read: “Cristiano Ronaldo is not injured and he is not ill. The man is 100%. Good morning to you who, like me, are sad and angry because Rangnick decided to ruin our Sunday by taking CR7 out of the classic against Manchester City simply for tactical reasons, to defend more in the game.”
Tellingly this post was liked by Ronaldo’s sister.
This instagram post claims Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT injured and has been dropped for tactical reasons today.
CR7's sister has liked the post. 👀 pic.twitter.com/sedghm1EMy
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) March 6, 2022
Clearly, the relationship between Ronaldo and Rangnick is not optimal.
In January, Ronaldo fumed at Rangnick when he was substituted during the 3-1 win over Brentford. The pair had a heated debate on the touchline and Ronaldo threw his arms in the air.
Ronaldo also was forced to publicly back Rangnick as reports swirled that he was at odds with the German and there were widespread divisions in the changing room.
It is well accepted that Ronaldo, at the age of 37, is not prepared to play out the final years of his career outside of the Champions League – and/or at a club struggling as badly as Man Utd have this season.
United now find themselves out of the top four, overtaken by Arsenal after Mikel Arteta’s men won at Watford earlier on Sunday. Arsenal also have three games in hand on Man Utd, meaning it is looking increasingly unlikely that the Red Devils will be in next year’s Champions League.
In addition to that, Man Utd and Rangnick (who will still be at the club for the following two seasons be it as manager or in an advisory role) are increasingly coming to realise the limitations of Ronaldo at his advancing age.
He is unable to press, work hard and defend from the front, something which completely throws off the whole tactical system of a modern manager. Rangnick himself is known as the godfather of gegenpressing, a system that simply isn’t possible to execute unless all 11 players are working in unison.
Ronaldo’s goalscoring record for Man Utd is still good this season – 15 in 30 games – but the large majority of these strikes were early on in the campaign.
He has just one goal and no assists in 10 games in 2022. In his 21 games since the last Manchester derby at the start of November, Ronaldo has scored in only five games and has just two assists.
These goal contributions mostly came against teams at the bottom of the table.
Given his status as a supposedly world-class superstar – and the best-paid player in the club on €30 million per year – this is clearly not good enough.
Both parties have come to realise that it is best to part ways at the end of the season. Ronaldo himself seems to be going through the motions too – his focus on the Portugal national team and his next club.
The fact that Ronaldo was out of a must-win match against their city rivals only further confirms that, whether you believe he is injured or not.