Cristiano Ronaldo is scheduled to return to Manchester United on Monday with his club ready to play hardball in any attempt for him to leave Old Trafford.
The Portuguese forward has reportedly told United that he wishes to leave, less than one year after returning to the Premier League. But United’s position has remained consistent throughout a summer in which speculation over Ronaldo’s future has been rife.
The club, with the approval of new manager Erik ten Hag, insist that Ronaldo is not for sale. And United fully expect Ronaldo to complete the second year of the two-year contract he signed after leaving Juventus last September.
United also insist there have been no offers for Ronaldo, despite reports that his agent Jorge Mendes has mentioned him in talks with Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli.
Ronaldo, 37, is scheduled to return to training on Monday, a week after 15 of his non-international team-mates who trained with Ten Hag throughout last week.
The veteran forward has enjoyed the statutory three-week break players are allowed after summer international duty but United will clearly seek clarification over Ronaldo’s position when he returns.
The developments over the weekend could not have come at a worst possible time for United and their new manager, who have been consistent that they wish to keep last season's leading scorer in their squad for the next campaign.
Now, with United leaving for their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia on Friday, the prospect of them having to find a proven, front-line striker before the start of the new season early next month is a daunting one.
The lack of an existing forward successor in United’s squad, and the fact they abandoned their faint interest in Darwin Nunez at the start of the window, allowing him to join Liverpool, mean that the chances of them agreeing to allow Ronaldo to leave are slim.
Ronaldo has reportedly let it be known that he has been disillusioned by United’s lack of productivity in the current transfer window.
And, while he has an affinity with the club and supporters, his desire to continue playing Champions League football, rather than the Europa League in which United will compete, have led him to his decision.
However, Monday's meeting will unearth how vehement Ronaldo is that he wishes to leave United and what the next steps might be, for both parties, if he remains insistent on moving on.
Ronaldo, who turns 38 in the new season, may also be limited in his options, given his salary with United, which paid him a reported £480,000-a-week last season.
Although that is expected to be lower in the new season, due to incentive clauses built around United’s participation in the Champions League, there will be very few rivals able to compete in such a market place.
United, at least, are poised to start responding to concerns about a lack of new signings, with the £13 million arrival of Dutch left-back Tyrell Malacia expected to be confirmed on Monday.
Malacia, 22, was expected in Manchester late on Sunday to undergo his medical prior to the completion of formalities.
United are also still in talks with Ajax over Argentinian centre-half Lisandro Martinez although they are locked in competition with Arsenal over a player for whom they have opened the bidding at €40 million (£34.5m).
And United remain relaxed about their pursuit of their No 1 summer target Frenkie de Jong, despite claims from Barcelona president Joan Laporta that the Catalan club do not wish to sell and the midfielder is happy to remain in Spain.
United’s position, that talks are productive and ongoing with Barcelona, has not altered.