Cristiano Ronaldo starts for Manchester United in Rayo Vallecano friendly

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at Old Trafford with his team-mates


Ronaldo’s return! Erik ten Hag STARTS wantaway forward in Manchester United’s final pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano friendly despite his demands to leave Old Trafford in pursuit of Champions League football

  • Cristiano Ronaldo starts in attack for Man United in their final pre-season game
  • Reds host Spanish club Rayo Vallecano in Manchester on Sunday afternoon
  • Erik ten Hag will take to the Old Trafford dugout for the first time as manager
  • Portuguese star, 37, maintains he wants to leave United in the coming weeks
  • But United have dug in their heels, insisting Ronaldo isn’t for sale  

Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the line for Manchester United against Rayo Vallecano after being picked to start in attack by Erik ten Hag, despite the ongoing uncertainty over his Old Trafford future.

It follows a week in which both sides dug in – with Ronaldo reiterating his desire to leave United in pursuit of Champions League football and the club once again insisting he wouldn’t be sold. 

The wantaway Portuguese star, 37, has been included in the starting team to face the Spanish side alongside new signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, Donny Van De Beek, and Argentina forward James Garnacho.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was pictured arriving ahead of Sunday afternoon’s friendly. He was met by thousands of waiting fans and stopped to take pictures and sign shirts on his way into the stadium.

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at Old Trafford with his team-mates Ronaldo is in Manchester United's matchday squad for their friendly against Rayo Vallecano

Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived at Old Trafford for today’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano

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Ronaldo stopped to sign shirts and take pictures as he was met by thousands of United

Ronaldo stopped to sign shirts and take pictures as he was met by thousands of United

Ten Hag has rested players that started yesterday’s friendly loss against Atletico Madrid, with the manager experiencing his first game at Old Trafford since becoming the club’s new manager.

Today’s fixture is the last of United’s pre-season matches having successfully navigated their way though games in Thailand and Australia, that Ronaldo was absent from due to family reasons.

Ten Hag has been able to gauge his side’s readiness and instil his style of football ahead of the start of the new Premier League season, but is still missing top transfer target Frenkie de Jong as discussions with the player and Barcelona drag on.  

Ronaldo swept back into the club’s Carrington training ground accompanied by his agent Jorge Mendes earlier in the week.

He met with the new United boss for a debrief of their pre-season trip and with the club’s hierarchy over his future, in which neither side’s position budged.

Wantaway Ronaldo is back for Manchester United against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday

Wantaway Ronaldo is back for Manchester United against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday

Ronaldo continues to push for a move away from United but the club are refusing to sell him

Ronaldo continues to push for a move away from United but the club are refusing to sell him

Ten Hag will name a heavily rotated side from the one that featured against Atletico Madrid

Ten Hag will name a heavily rotated side from the one that featured against Atletico Madrid 

The player’s issue is that one-by-one all potential suitors have ruled out taking on the burden of his £360,000-a-week wages, even if Ronaldo has suggested he will take a pay cut.

Atletico Madrid were the latest to turn him down following a backlash from fans towards a player who remains a legend across the city at the Bernabeu.

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On Wednesday, Ronaldo trained away from the main group as he looks to build up his sharpness and he watched the behind-closed-doors friendly against Wrexham.

As the week drew on, there was a suggestion that Ronaldo would play a part in Sunday afternoon’s game, having not been included in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in Oslo.

And Ronaldo himself confirmed this when he replied to an Instagram post by a fan account, saying ‘On Sunday, the King plays.’

Ronaldo addition announced his United return on Instagram saying 'Sunday, the king plays'

Ronaldo addition announced his United return on Instagram saying ‘Sunday, the king plays’

Cristiano Ronaldo took to social media to confirm he is back training with Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo took to social media to confirm he is back training with Manchester United

The player also posted a photo of himself on the training ground posing next to fringe players Amad Diallo, Charlie Savage and Hannibal Mejbri – he captioned the photo ‘Working in progress…’.

Ten Hag himself confirmed Ronaldo’s involvement after the Atletico game, saying: ‘We’ll see how long he can play.’

That duly came to pass as Ten Hag named a side heavily rotated from the one beaten on Saturday.

It remains to be seen what part Ronaldo will play in United’s Premier League season opener at home to Brighton next Sunday.

What is for sure is that speculation over his future is set to dominate the opening weeks of United’s campaign as Ten Hag works to reboot a team that could only qualify for the Europa League last season.

Anthony Martial, who has impressed during pre-season after his United career was written off at the beginning of the year, suffered a hamstring injury against Atletico which could make him a doubt for the opener. 

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