Manchester United could let Cristiano Ronaldo leave Old Trafford in the current transfer window amid worries over how his mood is affecting the morale in the camp, BBC Sport reports.
Although manager Erik ten Hag stated his unwillingness to let the 37-year-old Portuguese forward go, senior figures were alarmed at how rapidly the positive feelings surrounding a successful pre-season tour disappeared following the Red Devils’ disastrous start to the Premier League campaign.
Ronaldo still has a year left on the contract he signed after returning from Juventus less than 12 months ago but wants United to let him leave this summer.
Successive Premier League defeats to Brighton and Brentford rattled United and part of the overall blame has been narrowed down on Ronaldo.
The former Real Madrid man is said to be a “negative presence” at the club, hardly communicates with his teammates in the canteen, and has made no secret of his desire to move away.
Sources told BBC Sport they fear there will be “no change to United's current issues” until Ronaldo leaves and there is a belief amongst some that even if the forward was not replaced, the general uplift would trigger a “significant improvement in overall performances”.
With the transfer window closing on Sept 1, Ten Hag, Chief Executive Richard Arnold and Football Director John Murtough are wrestling with this issue.
Winless United are bottom of the Premier League and play Liverpool Aug 22.
Speaking on Sky Sports on Monday, former United defender Gary Neville said: "There is a massive decision to make on Ronaldo. He is obviously not happy, the problem is if they lose him there is nothing left in the goalscoring part of the pitch. I genuinely think if he leaves and they don't bring people in they could finish bottom half of the table."
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was United's top scorer last season - and third in the Premier League - but the club finished sixth and missed out on Champions League qualification.
Chelsea ended their interest in the player last month, while he has also been linked with Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid.
Atletico fans have urged their club not to get involved in discussions around signing Ronaldo.