Ronaldo ‘will start United’s EPL opener against Brighton on the BENCH’

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Cristiano Ronaldo will reportedly start Manchester United’s opening game of the 2022-2023 Premier League season on the bench amid ongoing uncertainty over his future at the club.

The Portuguese superstar has 12 months remaining on his £360,000-a-week deal at Manchester United but stated his desire to leave the club earlier this summer as he looks to pursue Champions League football.

The 37-year-old forward was also absent from United’s pre-season tour of Bangkok and Australia after the club granted him some additional time off to deal with a family issue.

Ronaldo made his United return against Spanish outfit Rayo Vallecano – playing just 45 minutes before departing the ground ahead of the full-time whistle.

Therefore, Erik ten Hag has decided that Ronaldo will start United’s opening game of the Premier League season against Brighton on the bench, according to The Sun.

The Dutch manager is set to reward Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford with a place in the starting XI after impressing during their pre-season campaign.

However, ten Hag is sweating over the fitness of Martial just four days out from their Premier League opener against Brighton on Sunday.

The Frenchman picked up an injury in United’s 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in pre-season, leaving the pitch after an hour holding his hamstring.

It comes as a blow to the Dutch manager as Martial had rediscovered his best form while away on United’s pre-season tour this summer.

Having fallen out of favour last season and sent on loan to Sevilla, Martial might have expected to depart the club this summer but he instead played a prominent role in pre-season and is likely to play a key role in Ten Hag’s plans moving forward.

Goals against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace have offered some encouragement that Martial could become a major player for United again after a number of seasons in which he struggled to match his early promise.

Should Martial be ruled out, Ten Hag could turn to Ronaldo – who only returned to the club last summer after departing in 2009 for Real Madrid.

However, Ronaldo has made it clear he wishes to leave the club this summer and secure a transfer before United’s opening game of the season.

Nevertheless, Ten Hag will be eager to walk away from United’s 2022-2023 opener against Brighton with a result.

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