Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has dropped striker Cristiano Ronaldo from the squad to face Chelsea on Saturday as punishment for his early exit in the win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Ten Hag made the decision after Ronaldo left Old Trafford before the end of a 2-0 win over Spurs on Wednesday.
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Ronaldo didn’t train with the first team on Thursday and isn’t expected to join the squad until Monday.
Sources have told ESPN the club have supported Ten Hag’s moves but insist the 37-year-old remains “an important part of the team”.
A club statement released on Thursday read: “Cristiano will not be part of Manchester United’s squad for this Saturday’s game against Chelsea. The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for this match.”
Ronaldo left his seat on the bench to walk down the tunnel ahead of the full-time whistle against Tottenham, although Ten Hag has two other replacements available.
Sources have confirmed to ESPN that the forward refused to come on when Ten Hag brought on Christian Eriksen and Anthony Elanga in the 87th minute. United declined to comment on this information.
Sources also told ESPN that Ronaldo left the stadium and was not in the dressing room when Ten Hag and the players returned.
Ronaldo showed up at United’s Carrington training ground around 10.30am on Thursday.
He held talks with Ten Hag before the Dutchman decided to drop him from his squad to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
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Following his withdrawal from the squad to face Chelsea, Ronaldo wrote on Instagram that the “heat of the moment” had got the better of him and that he would work hard to return to the squad.
“I have always tried to set an example myself for the youngsters who have grown up in all the teams I have represented,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment takes over.
“Right now I just feel like I have to keep working hard at Carrington, supporting my teammates and being ready for anything in any game.
“Yielding to pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United, and we have to stick together. Soon we will be together again.”
It’s the second time Ronaldo has been reprimanded by Ten Hag for leaving a game early.
The United boss called his behavior ‘unacceptable’ after he was pictured leaving Old Trafford before the end of a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano in July. Ronaldo started the game but was substituted at half-time.
Ronaldo was also caught shaking his head following Ten Hag’s decision to replace him in the second half of the 0-0 draw with Newcastle on Sunday.
The Portuguese international wants to leave the club after just two Premier League games. He has scored two goals in 12 appearances so far this season, including his 700th career club goal in the 2-1 win over Everton earlier this month.