Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand has said that the Red Devils should allow Cristiano Ronaldo to leave the club on a free transfer in January if he is not in Erik ten Hag‘s plans.
Ronaldo hit the headlines when he walked down the tunnel before the end of his side’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, which ended in a 2-0 success for the hosts.
The 37-year-old was an unused substitute against Antonio Conte‘s side, and it is understood that he even left Old Trafford before the final whistle had been blown.
Ferdinand, who played alongside Ronaldo during the Portuguese’s first spell at the club, has suggested that Ten Hag could be saving the attacker for Saturday’s game with Chelsea.
However, if that is not the case, the former centre-back has said that the ex-Sporting Lisbon youngster should be allowed to leave on a free transfer in January, six months before the end of his contract.
“My only thought could be is that Cristiano Ronaldo is being saved for the weekend against Chelsea,” Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel.
“That’s the only way that I see it, logically, that he did not play [last night]. I think Ronaldo will be absolutely fuming with that, naturally.
“I wouldn’t expect anything different from him. I think the big problem Erik ten Hag has got is that, coming up to this next window, he has to think very carefully about what he does.
“If he doesn’t see Ronaldo as a starter in his team more often than not, I think he has to release him from his contract. He has to let him go. It’s not fair on anybody, on the club, on Ronaldo, on Ten Hag, that the first question after every game is “Why didn’t Ronaldo start?”
“That will be a story. United won 2-0 and the leading story will be about Ronaldo. That can’t be right.
“You sit here and think why did Man Utd not just let him go if Ten Hag knew he didn’t want Ronaldo in his plans. That’s the baffling thing for me.
“You think what he’s done in his career – at his level – surely the manager would have known before the season started if he was going to play Ronaldo or not, if he wanted him in his team, if he was someone to build around.
“It looks to me right now that it was a no [he didn’t want Ronaldo]. If that’s the case, he should have let Ronaldo go. It’s going to be something that hampers Ten Hag going forward until the day Ronaldo leaves the club, because of how much of an icon and superstar he is.”
Ronaldo had started Man United’s previous two games against Omonia and Newcastle United before dropping down to the bench against Spurs, with Marcus Rashford preferred through the middle.
The forward has found it difficult to show his best form for the club this term, only scoring twice in 12 appearances in all competitions, with just one of those coming in the Premier League.