Ronaldo’s comments on Europa League speak volumes about Man Utd star

Erik ten Hag on Cristiano Ronaldo staying at Man Utd

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Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t played in the Europa League before. But that’s all set to change on Thursday night, with the 37-year-old expected to start when Manchester United lock horns with Real Sociedad at Old Trafford. And comments he made to a sporting director shows he’ll be taking the competition seriously, despite the fact he’d prefer to be playing in the Champions League instead…

Manchester United failed to qualify for the Champions League last term as they finished sixth in the Premier League table amid a chaotic campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

And that was part of the reason Ronaldo wanted to leave Old Trafford back in the summer transfer window.

Instead, he’s remained with the club and is poised to get just a second start of the season when they go up against Real Sociedad in the Europa League this evening.

It will be Ronaldo’s maiden outing in the competition – though he did feature for Sporting Lisbon when the tournament was formerly known as the UEFA Cup.

Many have made much of the player’s reluctance to drop down a level, especially as he enters the twilight years of his career.

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However, former AC Milan chief Massimiliano Mirabelli revealed in 2018 that Ronaldo was willing to play in the Europa League to seal a move to the San Siro.

He said that year: “Ronaldo told us: ‘You aren’t in the Champions League, okay, but I have never won the Europa League and so I’ll win that too.’

“He was convinced.

“Some say it was a joke, but we had Ronaldo sealed. There was a possibility of getting him, everything is true.”

In the end, Ronaldo didn’t move to AC Milan with the veteran leaving Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018.

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Now, four years on, he’s set to show the competition what he’s all about.

And it speaks volumes that, during his talk with the former Milan chief, Ronaldo vowed to everything he could to win the tournament for the Serie A giants.

United need a trophy. They’ve not claimed a single piece of silverware since winning the same trophy back in 2017, when Jose Mourinho was manager.

And Ronaldo needs one too to ensure he doesn’t fall further behind Lionel Messi in the silverware stakes.

It shows his elite mindset that, even though he’d rather be in the Champions League, he’s happy to compete for any trophy that’s a possibility.

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And how United need his goals if they’re to finally end their five-year wait for a title, in any capacity.

Ronaldo won’t go into the Europa League only giving 50 per cent. That’s just not in his nature.

And it still looks like the club’s best hope for a trophy this term, as they look to rebuild with Erik ten Hag in the dugout.

Ten Hag was asked about the Portugal international ahead of his side’s showdown with Sociedad – and revealed the Portugal international was ready to play from the start.

“Of course. He started against Brentford. Then not since, but he is ready to start,” he said.

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And Ten Hag has revealed he’d be taking the competition seriously as well.

“We have to win every game, and we want to win every tournament, so we have to take everything serious,” he said.

“We not only have a team, we have a squad, that’s clear.

“But we have to win every game. That is the mentality that Manchester United needs.”

United reached the Europa League final in 2021, losing on penalties to Villarreal in the final with Solskjaer in the dugout. 

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