Cristiano Ronaldo says he’s not going anywhere – at least not yet. The 37-year-old Manchester United striker will play for Portugal in Qatar at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November, but he has also set his sights on the next European Championship, due to take place in Germany in the summer of 2022. 2024.

“It has been a long journey, but I would like to say that my journey is not over yet,” he said last week. “I still feel motivated and my ambitions are high. I want to be part of this World and European Championship. [Championship] too much. I’m going to assume it right now.”

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Ronaldo will be 39 by summer 2024 and at the end of his 22nd season as a top-level professional. His ability to keep fit and take care of his body is unquestioned – he has averaged around 50 club and international caps since his teenage years – but there is still debate as to where his club career will take him next. .

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He was keen to leave Manchester United in the summer out of a desire to stay at the very top for as long as possible and find regular Champions League football elsewhere. The move fell through and he remains at Old Trafford for now, but there are questions about his next move and what his future in football looks like.

Option 1: He will leave Manchester United in January

Ronaldo’s biggest concern over the summer was the fact that Manchester United failed to qualify for the Champions League and as his playing career draws to a close, he wanted to continue playing in the competition in which he is the top scorer of all time. Flirting with Chelsea, Bayern, Napoli and Atlético Madrid – to name but a few – came to nothing and he was forced to make his Europa League debut against Real Sociedad earlier this month.

But now Ronaldo’s problem is that not only does he not play in the Champions League, but he does not play regularly at all. He has started one Premier League game all season and unless Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial are in good shape ahead of the game against Premier League champions Manchester City after the training break, it is unlikely that he will start the derby at the Etihad Stadium. in October. 2.

The lack of regular football raises the possibility that Ronaldo could leave in January. In theory, he could find a club that qualified for the Champions League play-offs and give himself another chance to add to his five titles. However, the January move will depend on whether United let him go. Erik ten Hag doesn’t have many options as a centre-forward and the club has already distanced itself from any significant signings in the next window.

Option 2: He will leave Manchester United next summer

This is a more natural break and will give Ronaldo the chance to select a better-placed club to give him the chance to score more goals, win more trophies and fully prepare for Euro 2024.

He signed an initial two-year deal when he returned to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2021, and from January 2023 he could start talks with clubs ahead of a possible free transfer at the end of the season.

There has been very little demand for his services this summer – one of the main reasons he stayed at United – but that could easily change. In addition, if Ronaldo gives up hope of playing in the Champions League again, it will open the possibility of leaving Europe.

There was a lot of interest from Saudi Arabia during the summer, but sources told Sportzshala at the time that he was not ready to consider moving to the Middle East, despite being given a lucrative offer.

Option 3: He will extend his contract at Old Trafford.

Curiously, United have never ruled it out, and this summer Ten Hag openly admitted that it was a possibility. The contract, signed by Ronaldo in 2021, is for two years plus an option for a third, under which his deal will be valid until 2024.

United often include options in player contracts. For example, they were able to extend Paul Pogba’s stay for another year, despite talks for a longer deal stalled. The option in Ronaldo’s deal is slightly different in that, according to sources, it will require the consent of the player and his representatives to run.

Staying another year at the club seemed a long way off over the summer, but sources say it’s been noticeable how dedicated and motivated Ronaldo has been in training and in games since the transfer window closed.

If United have a good season and (very importantly) return to the Champions League on the first try, he may feel that Old Trafford is the place for him.