Manchester United are preparing to begin the season without Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United against Atalanta in Champions League
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United against Atalanta in Champions League - IMAGO / Gribaudi/ImagePhoto

Manchester United are reportedly preparing to begin the new season without want-away star Cristiano Ronaldo as they are still in the dark about when the forward will return to the club.

The Old Trafford club, who flew back from their tour of Thailand and Australia last night have been without Ronaldo since they began their pre-season friendly early this month. 

According to reports, the Portugal star was given compassionate leave for a family issue but has not communicated with the club when he hopes to return to training. 

According to reports in Sportsmail, United’s patience is being tested three weeks after the player was due to report for pre-season training. The Red Devils have accepted Ronaldo’s explanation and have been careful not to put any pressure on him. 

But Erik ten Hag’s side are coming to terms with the fact that they may have to push the player harder over the next couple of weeks before they kick off the new season against Brighton. As things stand, it is unlikely that the 37-year-old would be available for that game.

Although Ronaldo has been training alone, he has not done the same preparation as his teammates or worked with Ten Hag. He posted a picture from the gym in Lisbon on Saturday — the day United drew 2-2 with Aston Villa in Perth. 

Man United have two more friendlies, with a first-choice XI facing Atletico Madrid in Oslo on Saturday and a second string playing Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford the next day.

Meanwhile, striker Marcus Rashford has hailed a ‘priceless’ pre-season as he attempts to get back to his best.

The England man was one of the worst performers last season as United finished sixth. His poor performances saw him dropped by England, but he hopes to have turned a corner after a full pre-season under Ten Hag. 

“I feel fit, I feel strong and we’ve come out of the trip without any injuries,” he said. 

“For me personally, it’s priceless to have the pre-season that I’ve had. I feel really happy. I’m my own harshest critic. I know when I’m not playing my best football and I know when I need to improve.”