Cristiano Ronaldo claims he isn't leaving, at least not just yet. The 37-year-old Manchester United forward has his sights set on the upcoming European Championship, which will be hosted in Germany in the summer of 2024. He will be in Qatar in November with Portugal for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo said last week in a statement: “It has been a long road, but I would like to say that my road is not over yet. I still feel motivated and my ambition is high. I want to be part of this World Cup and the European one too. I'm going to assume that right away.”
Ronaldo will be 39 by the end of his 22nd season as a top-flight professional in the summer of 2024. Since he was a teenager, he has played an average of 50 games every season for club and country, so it is clear that he can maintain his physical fitness and take care of his body. However, it is unclear where his club career will lead him.
In order to stay at the top for as long as possible and find regular Champions League games somewhere, he was eager to leave Manchester United in the summer. He is still at Old Trafford for the time being because a move didn't happen, but there are uncertainties regarding his next move and his football career in general.
Ronaldo's primary complaint over the summer was that Manchester United had failed to earn a spot in the Champions League. As his playing days are drawing to a close, he wanted to keep competing in the league where he holds the record for most goals scored. He tried out for Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Napoli, and Atletico Madrid, to name a few, but none of those things worked out, so he was obliged to play his first Europa League match against Real Sociedad earlier this month.
However, Ronaldo's current problem is that he not only does not participate in the Champions League but also does not play on a regular basis. It's improbable that he will start the Oct. 2 Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium if Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial are declared fit before the encounter against Premier League champions Manchester City following the international break. He has only started one Premier League game this season.
Ronaldo would consider leaving in January if he doesn't play regularly. Theoretically, he could locate a team that has advanced to the Champions League knockout stages and offer himself another opportunity to add to his five championships. A January transfer, though, would need United to let him leave. At center-forward, Erik ten Hag doesn't have many choices, and the club has already indicated that it won't be making any substantial additions in the upcoming transfer window.
This is the more natural break, and Ronaldo would have the opportunity to choose the team that would best position him to score more goals, win more titles, and get totally ready for the 2024 Euros. In January 2023, he can begin contract negotiations with teams in preparation for a potential free transfer at the end of the current campaign. He originally signed a two-year contract when he returned to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2021.
One of the main reasons he stayed at United this summer was the small market for his talents, but that may easily alter. Additionally, Ronaldo may consider moving outside of Europe if he gives up on the idea of competing in the Champions League once more. He received a sizable offer from Saudi Arabia in the summer, but sources told ESPN at the time that he wasn't yet prepared to think about moving to the Middle East.
It's interesting to note that United has never explicitly denied this possibility, and Ten Hag this summer publicly acknowledged it. Ronaldo's 2021 contract was for two years with an option for a third year, making it valid until 2024.
Options are frequently a part of player contracts at United. For instance, despite the fact that talks for a longer contract were at a standstill, they were able to prolong Paul Pogba's tenure by an additional year. The option under Ronaldo's contract is a little different because, according to reports, it would require approval from both the player and his representatives in order to be used.
In the summer, it looked unlikely that Ronaldo would remain at the club for another season, but according to sources, it has been apparent how dedicated and focused he has been in both training and games since the transfer market shut. He might believe that Old Trafford is the place for him after all if United has a successful season and (critically) makes it back into the Champions League at the first attempt.