Rio Ferdinand has jumped to the defence of Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese forward missed Manchester United training for the third day in a row.
Ronaldo has informed Old Trafford chiefs that he wishes to leave this summer amid concerns he will be unable to compete for the biggest trophies at the club.
Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli are all on red alert and eyeing a move for the unsettled superstar, whose agent Jorge Mendes has already met with multiple clubs to discuss a potential transfer.
Former United defender Ferdinand, who played a part in convincing Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford last summer, believes that the forward has every right to feel aggrieved with the current situation at the club.
‘Of course he’s not happy!’ Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube Channel. ‘You’re talking about Cristiano Ronaldo here! I don’t understand how it’s a big story that Cristiano Ronaldo is not happy with the way things are at Man United. He can’t be. I wouldn’t be.
‘Anyone who wants to win football matches or trophies, anyone who is used to winning and competing every year at the top of the table for the biggest prizes, and then all of a sudden isn’t – and doesn’t even qualify for the Champions League – you can’t sit here and expect them to be happy.
‘He’s not happy with missing out on the Champions League, he doesn’t even know what the Europa League soundtrack sounds like! When that comes on, he’s going to be thinking “what dance am I in here?”‘
Ronaldo was due back in pre-season training at the start of this week, but has been a no show at Carrington so far – citing family reasons for his absence.
Erik ten Hag is preparing his squad to head on their pre-season tour on Friday, with the first game set to take place in Bangkok against Liverpool on July 12, but he does not yet know whether the Portuguese international will board the plane with his team-mates.
Some United fans have accused Ronaldo of refusing to train in an attempt to secure a move away, but Ferdinand hit back at these claims.
‘I’ve been seeing people being a touch disrespectful,’ he said. ‘The way that people are questioning ‘he’s not here’ and the hysteria surrounding it. A member of his family is not well, so he’s not at training.
‘This is the most consummate, most professional athlete that we’ve seen on these shores. The most professional athlete we’ve seen for over 15 years and people are questioning this guy’s professionalism and why he’s not at the training ground.
‘Yeah he might want to leave, he might not be happy with certain things at the football club, but in terms of professionalism, this guy is training where he is – we’ve seen the pictures. His family are there, he needs to be where they are and you have to respect that. Simple as. Could it have been communicated better by the club? Probably.’
Ferdinand also criticised United for a lack of transfer activity so far this summer, suggesting that they have failed to convince Ronaldo that it is a club worth staying at.
Ten Hag finally secured his first signing as manager as Tyrell Malacia arrived in a £14/7million deal from Feyenoord earlier this week, but talks over a move for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong appear to be stalling.
‘He [Ronaldo] will be sitting there on his sun lounger, on his yacht, on his jet,’ Ferdinand said. ‘Wherever he is in the world and seeing Man City signing Haaland. Seeing Liverpool signing Nunez among other players. Phillips has gone to City as well.
‘He’ll be sitting there thinking “we had work to do to catch these guys anyway before these big signings and now they’re jumping even further away from us”. Arsenal are making moves, he’ll be thinking “when is my team going to start making moves?”. We all know we need some new faces in that building. He hasn’t seen any movement.
‘I understand the frustrations. I definitely would be frustrated. I as a player was on to the manager, on to David Gill [asking] who are we signing? That’s the way I was. I’m sure that’s what Cristiano is like and other players will be like that as well. He’s the biggest name but he won’t be the only one who’s disgruntled with the way things are.
‘We’re slow out of the blocks in the transfer market. There will have been work going on behind the scenes at Man United but we’re all human, we’re all impatient and we all want it done.’