Ten Hag: Ronaldo never told me he wanted to leave Man Utd

Cristiano Ronaldo "never told" Erik ten Hag he wanted to leave Manchester United before the forward's explosive interview aired.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner parted ways with United by mutual consent last month after a wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV in which he said he felt "betrayed" by the club.

Ronaldo also lamented "zero" progress since Alex Ferguson departed Old Trafford in 2013, while hitting out at former interim boss Ralf Rangnick and stating he had "no respect" for current United manager Ten Hag.

The Dutchman claimed the 37-year-old never came to him to discuss his desire to leave, though Ten Hag conceded there was no way back for Ronaldo after his public comments.

"Until that moment he never told me 'I want to leave'," Ten Hag told reporters in Spain, where United are training during the mid-season break for the World Cup.

"I have seen most of it. I have to do it. It is part of my job. The interview, I think, as a club you can't accept. To make that step he knew the consequences. But before, he never told me."

An unceremonious exit will somewhat tarnish Ronaldo's legacy at United, for who he had made just four starts in the opening 14 Premier League games this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo's time in the Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo's time in the Premier League

Ronaldo suggested he may be open to leaving ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, according to Ten Hag, though the Portugal forward opted to stay after consideration.

"In the summer we had one talk," he added. "He came in and said 'I will tell you in seven days if I want to stay'. He came back and said he did. Until that moment [the interview] I never heard anything [else].

"I like to work with world-class players. I know they can make a difference and help you to achieve your objectives.

"I wanted him to stay from the first moment until now. I did everything to bring him into the team because I value his quality.

"We wanted him to be part of our project and for him to contribute to Manchester United because he is a great player and has such a great history."

Ronaldo has been widely linked with a big-money move to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr but Ten Hag has little interest in what the striker does next as his focus remains with United.

"I don't want to spend energy on that. It is the past. We want a new future of Manchester United and he didn't want to be part of it," he continued.

"All my accountability is in favour of the club and the team. They are the decisions I have to make and it doesn't matter which person it is.

"It is about how we perform now. I believe our performances will confirm that we are going in the right direction."