Cristiano Ronaldo posts curiously-timed message after Champions League draw takes place
The Manchester United forward captioned his Instagram photo, ‘Keep working and focused,’ just before the 32 clubs learned their fate in Europe’s elite club championship, which will almost certainly not include Ronaldo.
After failing to finish in the top four last season, it appears the Champions League will be without its all-time leading scorer for the first time since 2003.
Despite Ronaldo’s spectacular return, the Red Devils had their worst Premier League season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, finishing sixth in the table.
But it wasn’t for a lack of effort from the 37-year-old superstar, who scored 24 goals in all competitions, 14 more than his nearest teammate.
Six of those goals came during heroic displays in Europe, as Ronaldo extended his record as the competition’s leading scorer with a massive 140 goals in 183 appearances, 15 more than competitor Lionel Messi.
However, with Paris Saint-Germain in this year’s tournament and Manchester United not, Messi will be able to close the gap on his fellow all-time great.
The disappointment of United failing to finish in the top four last season was followed by a summer of conjecture around Ronaldo, which is still ongoing.
According to multiple reports, his representative, Jorge Mendes, met with both Chelsea and Bayern Munich to discuss a return to the Champions League.
After a move to Bundesliga heavyweights, Borussia Dortmund was ruled out, Marseille is the latest Champions League team to be linked with the forward.
Sporting CP, Ronaldo’s original club, is another option among the 32 and the bookies’ current favourites to sign the superstar if he does not stay at United.
Ronaldo and Manchester United will find out their fate in the Europa League group stage draw on Friday in Istanbul.
But Ronaldo’s remark raises even more doubts after he was rested in United’s 2-1 victory over rivals Liverpool.
He may not return to the team anytime soon, given that his and Harry Maguire’s dismissal was followed by United’s finest performance of the season, but ‘Keep hard and focused’ might be a message to agent Mendes.