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Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United are now at a key, difficult point in a long love story. What happened just before the final whistle when United played Tottenham Hotspur is an important moment for understanding Cristiano's future. The Portuguese star refused to enter as a substitute in the final minutes and left Old Trafford before the match was even over. Erik ten Hag and his backroom staff were literally furious. Sources guarantee that the manager "wanted to react immediately" because he did not accept such behavior by Ronaldo.

There have been very tense hours around Manchester United, and in a big break from the past; in this case, the club's board supported the manager's decisions without hesitation. All together, in one direction, supporting Erik ten Hag despite Ronaldo being one of the most loved stars in Manchester United history. While in the past some managers weren't on the same page as the club, now Man United are fully backing the manager as ten Hag is considered the right man to bring the club to the top level in the next few years.

That's why the communication on the exclusion of Cristiano Ronaldo from the next match against Chelsea was quick, strong, without doubts. Ten Hag wanted to cut Ronaldo from the squad out of a question of respect towards the club and his teammates, while the Portuguese star, a few hours later, decided to apologize for his behavior by promising that he would remain "all united for the good of the club".

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Saturday, Oct. 22 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Stamford Bridge -- London
  • TV: NBC  | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
  • Odds: Chelsea +115; Draw +230; Manchester United +240 (via Caesars Sportsbook) 

Certainly, after a complicated summer, his agent Jorge Mendes will again seek a solution for Cristiano in the coming weeks in view of the January transfer market. It will not be easy. In the summer, Thomas Tuchel blocked negotiations with Chelsea (Todd Boehly was keen on a Ronaldo deal) while FC Bayern, Napoli and Atletico Madrid refused due to different plans for the future of the clubs. In particular, Atletico Madrid are not changing their mind at all with Simeone who doesn't want to proceed with a Ronaldo deal. Napoli are more than happy with the current squad and sources close to Ronaldo guarantee that he turned down an important, crazy proposal from an Arabic club in August, as he wants to continue in Europe.

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Now, Ronaldo will be back available on the market under the right conditions as his relationship with Erik ten Hag is at a breaking point; but Manchester United will have to explore the market for a new striker if Ronaldo leaves, given Anthony Martial's physical problems.

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A difficult domino in an ever-complex market like January's: answers will soon be needed, because all parties agree that they cannot continue like this.