Erik ten Hag said Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to tell him he wants to leave Manchester United and reiterated the 37-year-old is not for sale.
Ronaldo has a year left on his contract at United after rejoining the club just under a year ago and has made it clear to those at Old Trafford his desire to leave this summer. The player is absent from United’s pre-season tour, which begins with a game against Liverpool in Bangkok on Tuesday, due to personal reasons. Ten Hag remains relaxed in a situation that has undoubtedly cast a shadow over the Dutchman’s preparations for his first season as coach of the 20-time champions.
“I haven’t spoken to him [Ronaldo] after [the revelation that he wants to leave United]said Ten Hag, who confirmed Harry Maguire will remain captain of the club. “His absence is a personal issue.
“We are planning Cristiano Ronaldo for the season and that’s it and I’m looking forward to working with him. I have read [about his wish] but Cristiano is not for sale, he is in our plans and we want to succeed together.
“I spoke to him before this issue arose, I had a conversation with him and I had a good conversation. It’s between Cristiano and me.”
Maguire was the focus of much criticism for his form and leadership last season, a terrible one for United as they finished outside of the Champions League spots and 35 points behind champions Manchester City. But the England centre-back, who conducted his own warm-up here in Monday’s open training session due to a hamstring strain, will once again be United’s leader on the pitch.
“I need to get to know all the players – he’s been a captain for years, he’s had a lot of success, so I don’t doubt that issue,” said Ten Hag.
United arrived in the Far East after signing a deal this summer – Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia for €15m (£12.9m). The 22-year-old has signed a four-year contract. “He’s the profile for the modern full-back, defends well, is hard to beat and makes a really good contribution up front,” said Ten Hag. Malacia is the fifth United squad member to play at left-back alongside Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Diogo Dalot.
United are keen to sign Christian Eriksen, Frenkie de Jong and Lisandro Martínez but all three potential deals are dragging on, irritating United but not Ten Hag fans. “We want to use the right players. We’ve got a really good squad, we’re working to develop the way we play and the opportunity is there and we’ll take it,” he said.
“At my first press conference, I said we’re looking for players in midfield, we need them and we’re also looking for players on offense. It’s going to be a long season, but a season that’s quite unusual because of the World Cup, so you need more players than in a normal season.”
Ten Hag refused to dig into the qualities of United’s goals. “I never talk about players who are not signed to Man United, players from other clubs,” he said.
United chief executive Richard Arnold and the club’s director of football John Murtough were photographed in Barcelona on Sunday meeting with executives at the Spanish club amid ongoing talks over De Jong’s transfer.
Ten Hag supported Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial who endured particularly hot seasons last time out. “We’ve been working for two weeks, they’re a really good match and we need to figure out what’s best,” he said. “What I know and see is that they have an impact on the opponent and can hurt opponents.”
Meanwhile, Fulham have finalized the signing of United midfielder Andreas Pereira on a four-year deal.
The 26-year-old, who came through United academy after joining from PSV Eindhoven in 2011, has joined the newly promoted club for £8million, with a further £2million in potential additions.