Erik ten Hag ready to build Man Utd AROUND Cristiano Ronaldo despite missing pre-season tour and continued transfer link

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ERIK TEN HAG is ready to build his team around wantaway legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

And he will keep Harry Maguire as captain to rebuild his confidence, too.

New boss Ten Hag has no idea when Ronaldo, 37, will return after missing the start of United’s tour for ‘family reasons’.

He is currently training alone in Portugal as speculation over his future rumbles on and posted a picture alongside Cristiano Jr and former Sporting academy team-mates Jose Semedo and Miguel Paixao on Monday.

He captioned the picture: “Work done.”

Asked if the superstar can adapt to his pressing system, Ten Hag said: “Cristiano’s capable of doing that. In his career he has shown everything.

“I have set my demand. We want to play in a certain way. A top player can contribute and Ronaldo is an absolute top player in our squad.

“The players dictate the way you play. Especially players who score goals because they are extremely important for a team. You construct your team around them.”

When Ten Hag was asked about triggering Ronaldo’s extension, he added: “I am well informed he also has an option.

“Yes [he could stay beyond next season]. Of course, I have signed here for three years but in football it’s short-term as well.”

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Spain with Atletico Madrid but United are yet to receive a firm offer for him.

It leaves the Portuguese veteran with the prospect of starting the new season with United, but Ten Hag has no doubts he will be ready.

He said: “We all know Ronaldo is a top professional and he will be fit, that is the last concern I have.”

Asked if he will be joining up with the rest of the squad at Carrington on their return Ten Hag said: “I cannot tell you. Not yet.”

Meanwhile, Ten Hag has backed under fire Maguire to shine after keeping the armband.

He said: “It can help. I will support him everywhere I can. In the end he has to do it by himself and he has the qualities to do it.

“He’s proved it in the past but he has also to prove it in the present time and in the future. The captain is a really important one and I’m happy with him.

“He has played 60 times for England. Harry is really impressive and I expect a lot from him.

“But there is also internal competition and that is what a club like Man United needs. You cannot win with 11 players. We need a squad, especially this season with so many games.

“We have the Europa League, the Premier League and the World Cup so we need a full squad with high-quality players not quantity.”

Ten Hag continues to chase down Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

He said: “We are looking for a player who can playing in the holding midfield position, but it has to be the right one. There are not many in that position capable of the level we demand. We will strike the moment the player is available.

“I would like to sign English players. There is only one criteria and that’s quality in combination with the price. It looks like English players are quite expensive.”

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