Raphael Varane, a Manchester United defender, has stated why he believes Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t now a regular starter under Erik ten Hag.
Ronaldo announced his intention to leave Old Trafford in search of Champions League play in the summer, but the 37-year-old was unable to clinch a transfer away from the club.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner remained a United player after the transfer window closed, but has battled to break into the Reds’ starting lineup this season.
The Portuguese international, who has been linked with a move to numerous European teams in recent months, made his debut for Ten Hag’s side in the 4-0 thumping of Brentford in August. However, he has found himself on the bench in recent weeks, as a much-improved United side has won four consecutive Premier League games.
Ronaldo made his second appearance in the Europa League against Real Sociedad last week, playing the entire 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
Despite being the club’s best striker last season, with 24 goals in all competitions, Ronaldo is on the outskirts of Ten Hag’s plans.
Varane, who won four Champions League titles with Ronaldo at Real Madrid, believes the veteran forward is suffering the price for missing pre-season.
Ronaldo skipped United’s pre-season tour due to family obligations, according to France international Varane, and the striker is now playing catch-up.
In an interview with TCL Global, he stated: “As previously stated, Ronaldo has arrived. And, as we all know, he had no pre-season. Pre-season cannot be missed. It’s a foundation.
“Especially with the game we want to play and the manner we want to play it. We don’t play like we did last year; there is no similarity.
“This necessitates collaboration as well as specific placement in – and out of – possession. Another consideration is his physical condition.”
The Portugal veteran is expected to play for the Reds in their Europa League match against FC Sheriff on Thursday night, although it is uncertain whether the 37-year-old will start.