Cristiano Ronaldo was included in Manchester United's starting XI to face Rayo Vallecano amid the ongoing rumours linking him with a summer transfer, but he did not stick around to hear the final whistle. The 37-year-old made Erik ten Hag's lineup despite not featuring in any of the Red Devils' previous five pre-season fixtures.
Ronaldo indicated he was set to feature against Rayo on social media as he told his followers "the king plays", leading to speculation he would come off the bench, but Ten Hag decided to use him right from the off at Old Trafford.
What has Ten Hag said about Ronaldo?
Ten Hag initially confirmed that Ronaldo would be in his squad for the Rayo friendly clash after United's 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in Spain on Saturday.
The Dutchman admitted that the veteran forward is still a long way behind the rest of his senior team-mates in terms of fitness, however, having only just seen him return from an extended break.
"He is not on the level of the rest of the squad because he missed a lot of weeks," ten Hag told Viaplay. "But he needs games and he needs training, a lot."
Why did Ronaldo leave Old Trafford early?
Ronaldo played the first 45 minutes of United's 1-1 draw with Rayo before being substituted for Amad Diallo at the interval.
The striker was then seen leaving Old Trafford before the final whistle, and it has not yet been confirmed by the club whether or not his departure was sanctioned by Ten Hag.
Who else made Ten Hag's starting XI?
Ronaldo shared the spotlight with £46.5 million ($57m) summer signing Lisandro Martinez, with the former Ajax defender handed a centre-back berth alongside Raphael Varane.
Christian Eriksen made Ten Hag's line-up after a cameo showing against Atletico, while Argentine youngster Alejandro Garnacho and Donny van de Beek were also included.
Will Ronaldo leave Man Utd?
GOAL confirmed that Ronaldo had handed in a transfer request earlier this summer, on the back of a dismal 2021-22 campaign for United that saw them drop out of the Champions League.Getty Images
The former Real Madrid and Juventus star has been seeking a move to a club still playing in Europe's elite competition, but has so far been unable to find a willing suitor.
The likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Atletico and Barcelona have all distanced themselves from Ronaldo, while a potential homecoming at Sporting CP has also been ruled out at this stage.
United have publicly insisted that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will not be sold and, as it stands, he will be available for their 2022-23 season opener against Brighton next weekend.