Will Cristiano Ronaldo play for Man Utd against Brighton?

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: 5 Aug 2022 12:39 BST
  • 3 min read
FT Desk Updated: 5 Aug 2022 12:39 BST 3 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd, 2022-23

Cristiano Ronaldo's second spell at Manchester United had looked to be over. Could he now come to the Red Devils' rescue in their Premier League season opener against Brighton?

Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes have spent much this summer looking for a new club for a player who wants to add to his record 143 Champions League goals in the autumn of his career.

Ronaldo managed a team-high 18 strikes in the Premier League last term, but the club's sixth-place finish means they will only play Europa League football this year.

Erik ten Hag has since replaced Ralf Rangnick as coach, and United's new era looked to be well underway with Antony Martial, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford purring in pre-season while Ronaldo stayed at home, far away from his side's trip to Thailand and Australia.

Ronaldo featured in the first half of United's final friendly outing against Rayo Vallecano, but went home early after being substituted, drawing the ire of Ten Hag. But the Dutch coach could now use his wantaway star at the point of his attack on Sunday.

Martial misery

Martial - who scored three goals and assisted one more in games against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace - drew a blank against Atletico Madrid before leaving the field clutching his hamstring, and is only expected back next weekend at the earliest.

It leaves Ronaldo as the only recognised senior striker available to United, with Edinson Cavani having already left on a free transfer at the end of last season.

Ronaldo has scored once in two previous meetings with Brighton, but was on the losing side as United were shocked 4-0 in May.

Ten Hag admitted recently that Ronaldo was still significantly off the pace having missed the majority of pre-season, and there is a chance that the new coach elects to play Rashford through the middle with Anthony Elanga coming in on the wing.

United are hoping for a speedy Martial recovery, with great rivals Liverpool their opponents on the second weekend of the season.

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