(Reuters) – Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo will not be in their squad for Saturday’s Premier League game at Chelsea, the club said in a statement on Thursday.
Ronaldo, an unused substitute in Wednesday’s 2-0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur, walked down the tunnel with a few minutes of the match remaining after being left on the bench again by manager Erik ten Hag.
Ten Hag said after the game that he would deal with the matter on Thursday, adding that his focus was on the team.
“Cristiano Ronaldo will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday’s Premier League game against Chelsea,” United said.
“The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture.”
Ronaldo’s behaviour on Wednesday drew criticism, with former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel saying the 37-year-old has become a distraction at Old Trafford.
“I’ve always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I’ve represented,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram on Thursday.
“Unfortunately that’s not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.
“Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game.
“Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again.”
Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions for United last season after joining them for a second spell from Juventus, but the Portugal international has started only two league games this campaign.
A five-times Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo scored his 700th career goal in United’s win at Everton this month, adding another milestone to his glittering trophy-laden career.
Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles and the Champions League in his first spell with United, helped Portugal win the 2016 European Championship.
He was linked with a move awayfrom Old Trafford during the close season transfer window, though Ten Hag said he still featured in his plans for this campaign.
United are fifth in the Premier League on 19 points, one behind fourth-placed Chelsea after 10 games.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Tommy Lund in Gdansk, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)