Manchester United are braced to begin the season WITHOUT Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United are braced to begin the season WITHOUT Cristiano Ronaldo… with Erik ten Hag still in the dark about the wantaway forward’s availability less than two weeks before the Red Devils face Brighton

  • Man United are still unsure about when Cristiano Ronaldo will return to training
  • The forward, 37, missed the club’s pre-season tour because of a family issue
  • United have been careful not to put any pressure on Ronaldo amid his no show
  • His agent Jorge Mendes has been trying to engineer a move to Atletico Madrid

Manchester United are still in the dark about when or if Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the club as they flew back from their tour of Thailand and Australia last night.

Erik ten Hag and his players touched down in Manchester having been without the Portugal star for the 17-day trip after he was given compassionate leave for a family issue.

But United’s patience is being tested three weeks after the player was due to report for pre-season training.

Manchester United are still in the dark about whether Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the club

Erik ten Hag and his players have arrived back in Manchester following their pre-season tour

Erik ten Hag and his players have arrived back in Manchester following their pre-season tour

The club have accepted Ronaldo’s explanation and have been careful not to put any pressure on him.

But there is a growing feeling at United that something will have to give over the next couple of weeks before they kick off the new season against Brighton. It is unlikely that the 37-year-old would be available for that game.

Although he posted a picture from the gym in Lisbon on Saturday — the day United drew 2-2 with Aston Villa in Perth — he has not done the same preparation as his team-mates or worked with Ten Hag.

Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes has been trying to negotiate a transfer to Atletico Madrid

Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has been trying to negotiate a transfer to Atletico Madrid

The forward posted a gym picture in Lisbon on Saturday - the day United played Aston Villa

The forward posted a gym picture in Lisbon on Saturday – the day United played Aston Villa

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 24 hours later.

Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has been trying to engineer a move to Atletico having failed to drum up sufficient interest from Europe’s top clubs.

Although it is understood that Ronaldo would take a cut on his £500,000-a-week wages, Atletico would need to sell players to fund the move. United continue to insist that Ronaldo is not for sale.

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

Marcus Rashford has hailed a 'priceless' pre-season as he attempts to get back to his best

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

The forward’s 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,’ Rashford 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.’

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