Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo denied ‘elite sportsman’ exemption from mandatory Covid isolation
Manchester United have been dealt a blow after learning that Cristiano Ronaldo will be forced to isolate for five days upon his arrival in England.
The 36-year-old sealed his return to Old Trafford on transfer deadline day, some 12 years after leaving the club for Real Madrid.
He completed his switch to rejoin Man United from Juventus in a deal worth a reported £25million and will earn a reported £465,000-a-week, having signed a two-year deal.
Ronaldo had already been unveiled as Man United player before heading off on international duty to link up with the national team setup.
The Portuguese star broke the all-time international goalscoring record with his 110th and 111th goals to fire Portugal to a 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in the Algarve.
But he will be suspended for their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on Tuesday after removing removed his shirt while celebrating his record-breaking strike.
It was Ronaldo’s second booking of the qualification campaign, ruling him out of the next game and he was granted permission to leave the national team’s camp during the international break to link up with the Red Devils.
It was believed that Ronaldo would be able to fly in to Manchester and train with his new team-mates, before potentially making his debut against Newcastle United on September 11.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans have been thrown into doubt after Ronaldo was denied the elite sports exemption by the UK Government, according to The Times.
The exemption allows athletes to circumvent the UK’s rules on quarantining from countries that are listed as ‘amber’ by the Foreign Office.
As it stands, Portugal remains on the ‘amber’ list and that means even if Ronaldo is fully vaccinated, he will still need to self-isolate.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner will have to test negative on day two and five of his quarantine before being released.
It is not yet known when Ronaldo is planning to travel to the UK but, following the news that he will have to stay in quarantine, Man United may accelerate his flight schedule.
While the denial of the exemption will be badly received by the club, Ronaldo should be able to train for at least three days with his new team-mates if he flies out on Friday.
It is not the first time this summer that United have been left frustrated by the red tape involving Covid and Brexit.
Raphael Varane was forced to wait for two weeks before his move was officially completed as the club were delayed in finalising his work permit.
The French defender uploaded footage showing himself juggling a football in his garden in Manchester while his team-mates prepared for their season opener against Leeds.
And it seems Ronaldo may be left to do the same when he jets into the North West.
However, the veteran forward has already received some positive news upon his arrival after reclaiming his favoured No.7 jersey, with Edinson Cavani moving to No.21.
Ronaldo paid tribute to his new team-mate for his gesture of goodwill, which means the club will have to replace shirts with ‘Cavani 7’ purchased by fans.
“I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to have the number seven shirt again so a huge thank you to Edi for this incredible gesture,” Ronaldo said.