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Manchester United remain adamant that Cristiano Ronaldo will not leave before the transfer deadline despite growing concerns within the club that his desire to move is becoming a negative influence in the dressing room, sources have told ESPN.
United dismissed reports on Sunday they are considering cancelling Ronaldo’s contract to allow the 37-year-old to join another club for free.
But there is an increasing feeling from some within the club that United should be open to letting him move, even if it means leaving the squad short of strikers.
Sources have told ESPN that Ronaldo has trained well since returning to the squad but has not hidden his keenness for a move during his interactions around Carrington, United’s training ground.
It has raised concerns about whether he is committed to the cause at a time when Erik ten Hag’s team are facing a battle to stabilise their season after back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford.
Ronaldo started the 4-0 defeat at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday but was visibly unhappy as he left the pitch after the final whistle and was seen remonstrating with members of the coaching staff before walking past manager Ten Hag.
Sources have told ESPN that Ten Hag is particularly concerned about any negative factors affecting the spirit within the dressing room, having become acutely aware that confidence and self belief is fragile after a disastrous campaign last season.
Martial impressed during preseason in the absence of Ronaldo but missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury.
Ten Hag remains keen to bolster his forward line before the transfer deadline — even if Ronaldo stays — by signing a backup striker and a versatile forward.
PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo and Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata are two names in the frame, but there remains a reluctance to commit too much money on other deals while United are still in the hunt for top target Frenkie de Jong.
Meanwhile, United sources have told ESPN that talks are “progressing” with Adrien Rabiot‘s representatives over a move from Juventus while Ethan Laird, 21, has signed a season-long loan deal with QPR.