The wantaway superstar is eager to leave Old Trafford this summer in order to play in the Champions League, and rumours on social media suggested that the 37-year-old veteran would be leaving the Red Devils.
CaughtOffside took to Twitter at around 5pm BST on Thursday to say:
“Cristiano Ronaldo is on the verge of signing for Sporting Lisbon.
“The club are going to begin presentation preparations from tomorrow. Deal 99% done. Jorge Mendes worked around the clock to find a solution. Sporting squad have been preparing for Ronaldo’s return for weeks.”
A source close to United, however, has told sources that the move is unlikely.
Soon after, Ronaldo posted an Instagram photo of himself training, running, stretching, and smiling, with the caption: ‘Keep working and focused,’ followed by a prayer and muscle emoji.
His post, his first in more than two weeks and his first since being benched against Liverpool, has already received 2.3 million likes.
After a hugely disappointing season in which United failed to qualify for the top European competition, the Portuguese forward announced his desire to leave earlier this summer.
Ronaldo’s ‘will he stay or will he go’ saga has threatened to sever the club’s unity in the midst of their early-season struggles under new manager Erik ten Hag, who has had to field questions about his star man’s future on a regular basis.
However, no suitable buyer has been found, with Chelsea cooling their interest and Atletico Madrid distanced from the former Real Madrid player following fan backlash.
On paper, Sporting’s return to the Portuguese capital makes sense – the Primeira Liga runners-up are in the Champions League and have a favourable group in Tottenham, Eintracht Frankfurt and Marseille.
However, there are genuine doubts about whether Ruben Amorim’s side can afford Ronaldo’s exorbitant wages – and a United source has confirmed the move is unlikely.
The 189-cap international spent one full season at Sporting before joining United for the first time in 2003, where he became a global superstar, before moving on to Real Madrid and Juventus before returning to Manchester in 2021.
After missing the club’s pre-season tour due to ‘personal reasons,’ Ronaldo returned to the starting lineup against Brentford in their second match of the season, but was ineffective as the Bees thrashed them 4-0.
He was then dropped for the game against Liverpool, and only came on for the final four minutes as Ten Hag’s men put in a much-improved performance to win 2-1, possibly demonstrating United’s future without Ronaldo.