Ruud van Nistelrooy returned to training with Manchester United this morning - but doubt still remains over whether the Dutchman will still be at Old Trafford for the start of the season.
After his massive bust-up with Alex Ferguson prior to the final game of the last campaign against Charlton, after which Van Nistelrooy was banned from playing in Roy Keane’s testimonial, it was widely assumed the 30-year-old would have moved on by now.
Instead, after insisting he wanted no discussion over his future until after the World Cup, Van Nistelrooy’s hopes of an immediate move have been scuppered, with neither Real Madrid nor Bayern Munich currently willing to meet United’s £15m (€22m) asking price.
Van Nistelrooy has indicated to both clubs he would be willing to join them, with Bayern yesterday revealing they had already started talks with the striker.
However, mindful of the £29m (€42.5m) Chelsea paid AC Milan for Andriy Shevchenko, the Red Devils do not see why they should be railroaded into a deal.
Last week, Ferguson claimed he would have ’no problem’ if Van Nistelrooy was still around when United open their latest assault on the Premiership title against Fulham on August 20, even though the former PSV Eindhoven man has handed in a written transfer request.
It was the same diplomatic card Van Nistelrooy played following Holland’s elimination from the World Cup, when he said unless his situation changed, he would report for training as required.
However, given the breakdown in relations between player and club, it would have been no surprise if Van Nistelrooy – one of only eight players to score 150 goals for United – had backed out of this morning’s session.
Instead, he joined many of his senior team-mates – including Edwin van der Sar, Park Ji-Sung and United’s England contingent – at the club’s Carrington training ground.
Ferguson was not due in until later, having delayed his departure from South Africa by 24 hours.
And, unless an ‘arrangement’ has been agreed between the pair, it seems highly possible Van Nistelrooy could be involved in the high-profile friendly against Celtic at Parkhead on Wednesday, or the clash with Preston next weekend.