Bruno Fernandes hinted he is aware of where Cristiano Ronaldo intends to play his football beyond this transfer window and says his team-mate’s decision must be respected.
Ronaldo’s Manchester United future continues to be a hot topic of discussion after being named among the substitutes for Monday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool.
The 37-year-old, who came on for the final four minutes at Old Trafford, has now been left out of the starting line-up for two of United’s opening three games under Erik ten Hag.
A number of clubs continue to be linked with Ronaldo ahead of next week’s transfer deadline, with the forward reportedly seeking a team playing in the Champions League.
And close friend Fernandes will be happy for his Portuguese compatriot regardless of whether he stays or leaves Old Trafford after just a year back at the club.
“There is a lot of speculation, but there is no one better than Cristiano to talk about it,” Fernandes told Eleven Sports. “I may know a thing or two, but I won’t be the one to say it.
“Cristiano is calm. He worked well this week and did the work he has been doing, which he will continue to do so.
“For now he is a United player. I don’t know if he will leave or if he will not leave. As he said, he will speak soon and they will have time to hear his words and what he has to say.
“I don’t think anyone has shown so far that there was no interest in Cristiano not staying. He can continue at a high level and give us a lot of goals but it’s his decision.
“We have to respect what he wants to do, whatever he wants to do.
“If he’s going to stay, we’ll be happy about it; if he’s going to leave because he thinks it’s best for him, I’ll be personally happy for him.
“The most important thing is that he’s okay, playing at the highest level and making our country proud.”
Ronaldo has played just 131 minutes across the first three matches this season – the 13th most of all United players – following on from a disrupted pre-season campaign.
The 24 goals Ronaldo scored in all competitions in 2021-22 were 14 more than next-best Fernandes, with no other United player reaching double-figures in a dire season.
Ten Hag made another huge selection call against Liverpool by omitting skipper Harry Maguire, but the Dutchman suggested both players still have a part to play.
“The demand is for everyone, including the manager,” Ten Hag said when asked about the pair at his post-match press conference.
“We have to deliver. You have an obligation to the club, to the fans. This is a massive club with a huge fanbase, and we have to deliver that.
“We have to act as a team, and every individual, every day, has to give their best. That is the demand for the manager and also for the team.”
Asked specifically about Ronaldo, Ten Hag said: “In his career, under several managers, he has [adapted] to styles and systems. He’s always performed, so why not again?”
When pointed out that Ronaldo will turn 38 before the end of the season, Ten Hag responded: “And? His age is not an issue.
“If you are young, you are good enough; when you are old, if you still deliver the performance, you are also good enough.”