Manchester United have now softened their stance on keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and will consider selling the forward to foreign clubs.
The 37-year-old shocked United’s board this weekend by asking to leave, with Ronaldo keen to play in the UEFA Champions League next campaign.
Ronaldo has been short of suitors since news broke of his informal request to leave Old Trafford but his agent, Jorge Mendes, held discreet discussions with Chelsea last week.
The Blues appear the most interested party for Ronaldo and they would afford him the ability to compete for titles, as well as playing in the Champions League.
But United will not consider selling to a direct rival and would let Ronaldo see out the last 12 months of his contract if the only offer comes from within the Premier League.
But, having initially said he was not for sale, ESPN claim United’s stance has shifted and they now concede that they will have to entertain offers for Ronaldo.
It’s felt keeping the player could be a bigger problem than letting him go and Erik ten Hag could ‘accelerate’ his rebuild of the club by discarding of Ronaldo.
But Ronaldo’s decision to tell United so late into the window has left the club scrambling for possible replacements, having already missed out on Haaland and Darwin Nunez.
Antony, the Ajax forward, is a key target for Ten Hag but the Brazilian star is considered a wide player.
Ronaldo’s exit means Anthony Martial would be the only recognised centre forward at the club and even he faces an uncertain future at United.