JUST IN: At last, United ready to release Ronaldo while leaving Chelsea confused

Cristiano Ronaldo who made an emotional return to Old Trafford last season from Juventus has shocked the United’s board this weekend by asking to leave, with the 37-year-old keen to play in the Champions League next season.

Amazingly, the Portugal international has been short of suitors since the news broke of his informal request to leave Old Trafford, but National Daily gathered that his agent, Jorge Mendes, has already held discreet talks with Chelsea last week.

The Blues appear the most interested party for Ronaldo and they would afford him the ability to compete for trophies, as well as playing in the Champions League.

But United will not consider selling to a direct rival and would let Ronaldo see out the final 12 months of his contract if the only offer comes from within the Premier League.

However, having initially insisted he was not for sale, ESPN say United’s stance has shifted and they now concede that they will have to entertain offers for Ronaldo.

It’s felt keeping the forward could be a bigger problem than letting him go and Erik ten Hag could ‘accelerate’ his rebuild of the club by discarding of Ronaldo.

But Ronaldo’s decision to inform United so late into the window has left the club scrambling for possible replacements, having already missed out on Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez.

Antony, the Ajax forward, is a target for Ten Hag but the Brazilian is considered a wide player.

Ronaldo’s departure means Anthony Martial would be the only recognised centre forward at the club and even he faces an uncertain future at Old Trafford

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