MANCHESTER UNITED accept they WILL lose Cristiano Ronaldo this summer.
The Portuguese superstar, 37, is currently on leave from training due to “family reasons”.
But Ronaldo has already made it clear he wants to quit following an unsuccessful return to Old Trafford ten months ago.
United were initially bullish about their star striker still being with them for next season.
But Red Devils bigwigs have now recognised they cannot keep him against his will and want to avoid a long, drawn-out battle.
New boss Erik ten Hag had admitted he wanted United’s legendary No 7 to stay.
He said: “Ronaldo is a giant, because of what he’s already shown and he’s still very ambitious. Of course I would like to keep him.”
However, after talks with the board, Ten Hag now accepts he will have to plan for the future without him.
While Ronaldo was top scorer with 24 goals last season, United finished sixth on 58 points — their lowest tally in the Prem era and 35 points behind champs Manchester City.
SunSport reported in January that Ronaldo’s advisors had told incoming chief executive Richard Arnold their client would not be staying if the club failed to qualify for the Champions League.
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Despite his age, the super-fit forward still believes he can win honours at the highest level — just not with United.
He signed a two-year contract on his return from Juventus last August.
But he was immediately dismayed at how standards had dropped at the club since he left for Real Madrid back in 2009.
Ron was also frustrated at how many younger players were not prepared to take on board advice.
Meanwhile, free-agent midfielder Christian Eriksen, 30, is close to signing and is expected to join his new team-mates on the second leg of their pre-season tour in Australia.
The Red Devils fly out to Bangkok tomorrow and face Liverpool on Tuesday.
United are also hopeful of signing midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 25, in a £56million deal despite Barcelona president Joan Laporta insisting they do not want to sell him.
De Jong moved to the Nou Camp from Ten Hag’s former club Ajax in 2019.
Barca’s financial woes mean the sale could still go through, with Laporta admitting: “We don’t want to sell right now but it could interest us.”
United have accepted Fulham’s £10m offer for Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira, 26.