Erik ten Hag has spoken to the media in detail for the first time since Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview and eventual exit from the club.
The Dutch World Cup manager watched on as Ronaldo, his most senior player and superstar went on live television to talk down on his management, his situation at Manchester United and the situation at the club in general. He also watched on as the club and Ronaldo finalised the details of the Portugal international’s contract termination.
The happenings of the past few weeks have brought an end to the speculation around Ronaldo’s future at Old Trafford. However, ten Hag insists that Ronaldo never gave him the idea that he wanted to leave the club.
“Until that moment in the [Morgan] interview, I never heard anything,” ten Hag, who is currently overseeing Manchester United’s training camp in Jerez, Spain, said about Ronaldo’s situation.
“In the summer, we had one talk. He came in and said, ‘I will tell you in seven days if I want to stay’. Then he came back and said, ‘I want to stay’.”
“The interview, I think, as a club you can’t accept. There will be consequences. To make that step he knew the consequences but before then he never told me.”
“We wanted him to be part of our project and for him to contribute to Manchester United because he is a great player,” ten Hag added. “He has such a great history, but it’s the past and we have to look into the future and so I don’t spend my energy on it.
“When he is in good shape, he is a good player and he could help us to get back and achieve the objectives we have. That is quite clear, but he wasn’t. I wanted him to stay from the first moment until now. He wanted to leave, it was quite clear. And when a player definitely doesn’t want to be in this club, then he has to go, clear.
“I did everything honest and open and transparent and we had talks about my vision, so I don’t have a problem to talk with him. I would have preferred it to be a different way because I wanted to work with him. But he chose another way.”
Meanwhile, United will be looking to replace Ronaldo in January. The club have had their sights set on Netherlands star Cody Gakpo and it is believed that talks are progressing towards his signing.
PSV Eindhoven have slapped a £50 million price tag on the forward but reports state that the club is ready to splash the cash to acquire their main target.
Gakpo will be heading back to his club after failing to make it past the quarter finals stage with the Netherlands. The club will be looking forward to speaking with him directly as they pursue his signature.