Erik ten Hag slams 'unacceptable' Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United friendly early

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Erik ten Hag slams 'unacceptable' Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United friendly early - ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS
Erik ten Hag slams 'unacceptable' Cristiano Ronaldo for leaving Manchester United friendly early - ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Erik ten Hag has slammed Cristiano Ronaldo over his “unacceptable” behaviour after the wantaway striker made an early exit from Manchester United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano.

And United’s problems on the eve of the new season were piling up with Chelsea attempting to hijack their protracted move for Ten Hag’s No. 1 transfer target Frenkie de Jong.

Ten Hag was left fuming after Ronaldo - who wants to quit the club - and some of his United team-mates left before the end of Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Vallecano.

Asked if Ronaldo and the other players involved would be fined, United sources said the situation was an internal disciplinary matter but Ten Hag made no attempt to hide his anger in an interview with Dutch television.

“I certainly don’t condone this,” Ten Hag told Viaplay Sport Netherlands. “This is unacceptable. For all those involved. We are a team and that means you have to stay until the end [of the game].”

The game against Rayo Vallecano was Cristiano Ronaldo's first pre-season outing - GETTY IMAGES
The game against Rayo Vallecano was Cristiano Ronaldo's first pre-season outing - GETTY IMAGES

The latest drama surrounding Ronaldo comes as United face the threat of missing out on De Jong to Chelsea, who have emerged as serious contenders for the Netherlands midfielder after holding talks with Barcelona and the player’s representatives.

United have agreed a £72 million fee with Barcelona for De Jong but their pursuit has dragged on all summer and a hold up over deferred wages owed to the player could now play into the hands of Chelsea, who can offer Champions League football unlike United.

The prospect of missing out on De Jong would be a huge blow and embarrassment to United as they wrestle with the latest headache over Ronaldo.

Gary Neville, the former United captain, has urged United to let Ronaldo leave after claiming you “can’t have your star player … running the shop” and “playing up”. “If Ronaldo wants to leave, Manchester United - in my mind - should facilitate that,” Neville told the Overlap Live Fan Debate.

Jamie Carragher claimed neither Ten Hag nor the United players would be unhappy to see the back of Ronaldo, although United have continued to insist the Portugal forward will not be sold and is part of their plans.

“I think if you asked Ten Hag, I don’t think he wants him,” Carragher said. “And I’m not quite sure the dressing room at Manchester United would want Cristiano Ronaldo right now.”

Ronaldo - who had been substituted at half-time of the 1-1 draw in his first appearance of pre-season during which he had a tense touchline exchange with Ten Hag - was pictured exiting Old Trafford around 10 minutes before the final whistle.

Team-mate Diogo Dalot was also photographed doing the same although the Portugal defender had not been in United’s matchday squad after featuring in a friendly against Atletico Madrid in Oslo the previous day. A small number of other, unidentified players are also thought to have left early.

Ten Hag had instructed all of his squad - including those who had played against Atletico - to come to the Vallecano game and eat together before the match.

Ronaldo is likely to be on the substitutes’ bench at best against Brighton for United’s Premier League opener at Old Trafford on Sunday after only reporting back last Tuesday having missed all of the club’s pre-season tour citing family reasons. And Ten Hag reiterated on Wednesday that Ronaldo must raise his fitness levels.

“To start with, he has to get fit,” he said. “He just started and he is a fantastic football player, he proved it so many times but you always get judged by what you are now, what you are presenting now, performing now so the team, Cristiano, by himself, has to prove it.”