Cristiano Ronaldo will have his salary at Manchester United slashed by a huge 25 per cent if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, according to reports. The Portugal international only returned to Old Trafford back in the summer after 12 years away. Yet his second spell at the club hasn’t worked out so far.
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Having finished second to Manchester City last term, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was more than happy to have the player back – especially having played alongside him under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ronaldo has scored 14 goals across all competitions, more than any other asset in the squad.
But United have endured a miserable campaign, sitting seventh in the league table and a huge 21 points behind City at the summit.
Now, The Athletic say Ronaldo will have his £400,000-a-week salary slashed by 25 per cent if the club end up missing out on Champions League football.
And with the player unhappy at Old Trafford, it’s feasible that could trigger him into jumping ship.
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Ronaldo has been a polarising figure since coming back, with some players happy to indulge him while others find him difficult to approach.
There is, however, a sense that the Red Devils haven’t lived up to their end of the deal.
United sold Ronaldo the chance to win again, to become the best team in world football again after two years of solid progress under Solskjaer.
But their hopes of a successful campaign are all but over already, just mere weeks into the New Year.
The publication states that Ronaldo’s representatives were asked to comment on claims the player could leave at the end of the season.
That they chose not to respond certainly doesn’t bode well.
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There is still hope the season can be salvaged, with United into the fourth round of the FA Cup after beating Aston Villa in the previous round.
They’re still in with a chance of finishing in the top four, too, sitting just two points behind West Ham ahead of Saturday’s showdown with the Hammers.
And United could yet win the Champions League this season.
Ronaldo has kept them in that competition with his goals, scoring home and away against Atalanta and Villarreal while also notching against Young Boys.
But that tournament won’t be easy, especially given the club’s record.
United haven’t won the Champions League since 2008, when Ronaldo was strutting his stuff under Sir Alex Ferguson.
They made the final the following year but Ronaldo left in the aftermath of a 2-0 defeat to Barcelona where they were played off the pitch in Rome.
And United were also blown away by the Catalan giants when they locked horns at Wembley two years later.
Speaking recently, Ronaldo admitted it hadn’t been ‘easy’ to be at United over the past few months.
“Not easy to be honest,” he said.
“We changed Ole, then [Michael] Carrick [caretaker manager], then this new coach. It’s difficult when you change so much, it’s always tough.
“It’s always sad and tough. Ole used to play with me before and now he was the coach. A fantastic person. When he left everybody was sad, but it’s part of football.
“When things don’t go the way the club wants, the club has to change. I was disappointed but we have to understand the club. It was difficult but life continues.
“But I still believe that we are capable of doing a good season. We know it’s going to take time to make the ideas of the new coach on the pitch.
“But I’m looking forward. We have to work hard, we have to be together as players. We know we are not in the best moment, but I believe with working hard we can achieve important things, even this year.”