Manchester United defender Raphael Varane explains why he believes Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t currently a regular starter under Erik ten Hag.
Despite a summer of speculation surrounding the 37-year-old’s future, United’s number seven remains at Old Trafford following the closure of the transfer window.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner wanted to join a Champions League club following the Red Devils failure to qualify for Europe’s top club competition.
But Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes was unable to secure a move for the Portuguese captain.
After starting the chastening 4-0 defeat to Brentford in Ten Hag’s second Premier League game in charge of the club, Ronaldo has come off the bench in our last four league games, which have brought four straight wins.
Raphael Varane explains why Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t a regular under Ten Hag
Despite being United’s top scorer last season with 24 goals across all competitions and being one of the greatest footballers of all time, the former Juventus man finds himself on the periphery of the Dutchman’s plans.
Varane, who won four Champions Leagues alongside Ronaldo during their time together at Real Madrid, believes that the Portugal international is paying the price for missing pre-season.
With Ronaldo’s representatives dropping the bombshell that he wanted to leave prior to United’s international players returning to Carrington for pre-season, Ronaldo missed United’s pre-season tour with family reasons cited as the reason for his absence.
Speaking in an interview with TCL Global, the Frenchman said: “As we said, Ronaldo is here. And, as we all know, he didn’t have a pre-season. You cannot miss pre-season. It’s a base.
“Especially with the game we play, the way we want to play. We don’t play in the same way we did last year, there is no comparison.
“This demands cooperation and it demands certain positioning in – and out – of possession. The other thing is his fitness.”
Question marks have been raised whether Ronaldo can adapt and adopt Ten Hag’s intense pressing game that he demands from his forward players, as he enters the twilight stages of his career.
Ronaldo started United’s Europa League defeat against Real Sociedad, but with Sunday’s clash against Leeds United being postponed, Ronaldo could find himself on the bench once again for Thursday’s trip to Sheriff Tiraspol if the former Ajax boss decides to start his best XI in Moldova.