Decision on Ronaldo's future before weekend?

July 13, 2006

Cristiano Ronaldo could still leave Manchester United this summer despite the Old Trafford outfit's categoric insistence the winger will not be sold.

Ronaldo has pulled back from his claim he will definitely quit the Red Devils after failing to receive the support of manager Sir Alex Ferguson in the wake of the abuse heaped on the Portugal star following his involvement in Wayne Rooney's dismissal during the World Cup quarter-final defeat of England.

However, in admitting there is a chance he could stay at United, the 21-year-old has also confirmed he could still leave, with his future set to be resolved before the weekend.

'There is still nothing concrete,' he said.

'If it is a question of staying then it will be fine, if I leave it will also be fine.

'It is still a question that has to be decided and is an issue that has to be discussed in the next few days.'

As he has now headed back to his home island of Madeira to recover from his World Cup exertions, Ronaldo is leaving all negotiations to his agent Jorge Mendes.

Whatever discussions Ronaldo thinks are going to take place promise to be brief, with both Ferguson and United chief executive David Gill adamant the player will not be sold.

It is over a decade since Ferguson last lost a player he wanted to keep and on that occasion, Andrei Kanchelskis' departure for Everton came amid allegations of aggressive behind-the-scenes agitation from his advisors.

Although the Red Devils could make a handsome profit on the £12.2million they paid Sporting Lisbon for Ronaldo in 2003, such a move is evidently not on the agenda.

'There is no possibility of Cristiano being sold,' said United.

'Cristiano recently signed a new contract until 2010 and the club fully expects him to honour it.

'The club will not listen to any offers for Cristiano. He is one of the brightest young stars in world football as demonstrated by his performances at the World Cup and Manchester United are not in the business of selling their best young players.'

Ferguson clearly does not want to see one of his best young players leave for a major European rival, acknowledging the negative signal it would send out.

But, while the Scot obviously believes he can smooth out any lingering resentment between Rooney and Ronaldo once the pair are reunited at the Red Devils' Carrington training base, there must be some possibility Ronaldo will just refuse to show up, throwing Ferguson back to his own strike-calling days as a shop steward on the Glasgow shipyards.