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Wantaway star Cristiano Ronaldo can fit into his new-look Manchester United system but has to get fit first, insists Erik ten Hag

Manchester United boss Erik Ten Hag has no doubt that wantaway forward Cristiano Ronaldo can fit into his system with the only caveat that he must prove himself first from the point of view of fitness.

Ronaldo’s future at United has throughout the summer transfer window been the subject of intense speculation all summer with the 37-year-old desperately wanting out as United are not privileged with Champions League football this season, just a year after he made a supposedly sensational return from Juventus that is now rapidly turning into a mockery of the club.

The wantaway Portuguese star did return to United training last week and made his Instagram self-proclaimed ‘the King returns’ first appearance under the new manager in Sunday’s final pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford – where the ‘King’ made no indelible impressions on the match and the only stir he caused was by leaving before the end of their 1-1 friendly draw against the Spanish side, sauntering off like a duke, something new boss Ten Hag has since labelled ‘unacceptable’.

Despite plenty being tossed around about whether Ronaldo still has what it takes to press from the front and play within the context of a modern system that ten Hag tends to implement at United, the former Ajax manager believes there is certainly a place for him in the side but it is one that needs to be earned meritoriously, especially given the form of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as a front three during pre-season.

‘I think he can,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘But to start with he has to get fit, he’s just started.

‘He is a fantastic football player, he proved it so many times, but you can always be judged on what you are now, what you are presenting now, performing now.

‘So the team and Cristiano himself have to prove it.’

Ronaldo being Ronaldo, the former Real Madrid star saw it fit to disrupt the pre-season tour as he didn’t travel with the rest of squad to Thailand and Australia due to ‘family’ reasons. Instead, he remained in Portugal and trained alone like the superstar that he is privileged to be.

Out of favor zero-to-hero Frenchman Martial instead led the line for United in spectacular fashion and notched three goals – making an even greater mockery of Ronaldo’s situation.

Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid have all previously been linked with a summer move for Ronaldo but all three clubs have been quick to distance themselves from those reports.

As expected, United, however, have so far maintained that he is not for sale, with the former Juventus forward still having one year remaining on his contract.

United kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Brighton on Super Sunday and Ronaldo is reportedly set to start on the bench amid ongoing uncertainty over his future at the club.

It sure looks like United have definitely inherited what Juventus couldn’t wait to get rid of.