Erik ten Hag was reserved about Cristiano Ronaldo’s availability in Manchester United’s first season, but reiterated that the wanted striker is part of his plans for the new season.
The 37-year-old is eager to leave Old Trafford again after just a year back at the club, with whom he won numerous trophies during his first spell.
Ronaldo missed a pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to family issues after playing his first 45 minutes ahead of a new campaign in United’s final friendly against Rayo Vallecano last Sunday.
Asked if the Portuguese would play in the first Premier League game against Brighton, Ten Hag said: “We’ll see Sunday.”
Ronaldo was among those players who left the friendly with Rayo early – a manager told a Dutch broadcaster that this was “unacceptable” for the participants.
“Now I have to point out those who left, but there were many players who left, but all the attention is focused on Cristiano, and this is wrong,” Ten Hag said.
“So I guess then do some research and find out how many players are left, that’s what was said.
“Okay, but I don’t understand what the connection is. He was part of it. Again, there were a lot of players.”
Asked about Ronaldo’s position at the club, Ten Hag said: “I am very happy.
“I told you before, we are planning a season (with him). We have the best striker and I am very happy that he is here, he is in the squad, and we are sticking to this plan.
Ten Hag was blunt when asked additional questions about Ronaldo as he focused on the collective rather than individuals.
“You mention it, fix it, and then move on,” he said of Rayo’s problem.
Asked about Ronaldo’s training, Ten Hag added: “I’m happy with the whole team. We work well, with a good culture, and Cristiano works really hard and hard.”
Ronaldo’s chances of playing against Brighton have been boosted by Anthony Martial’s hamstring injury.
I am happy with the whole team. We work well, good culture and Cristiano works very hard and hard.Erik ten Hag on Cristiano Ronaldo
The French striker, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla, looked buoyant when he played in the center of attack in pre-season.
“Yes (he got out),” Ten Hag said. “It is always difficult to tell (time). Hopefully not too long.”
Martial’s injury highlighted United’s lack of attacking opportunities – Ten Hag said they were looking to improve that area early in pre-season.
Christian Eriksen has arrived but the club are still pressing for reinforcements and the pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong continues.
“We need Frankie? I don’t know,” Ten Hag said with a laugh.
“It’s about the right players and there are a lot of them, but I can’t comment on a player who has a contract with another club. When we have news, we will bring it.”
During this window, United acquired Tyrell Malasia and Lisandro Martinez, as well as Eriksen.
Asked if he expected more players to arrive by now, he said: “It would be a good situation, but I have a roster and I am happy with the current roster. I think they are making good progress.
“I am happy with the signings so far. We don’t just need a player, you need the right players and that’s what we’re working on together.”