Cristiano Ronaldo's recent trip to his homeland Portugal ahead of a crucial game caused surprise at Manchester United.

Ronaldo had been expected to lead the line against Manchester City Sunday, but he was not in England by the time of kick-off at the Etihad. According to The Athletic, it is believed that he flew to Portugal once his absence for the Manchester derby became clear. The star reported a recurrence of the hip flexor problem that caused him trouble earlier this year.

Treatment could not soothe, so he took a flight to his homeland before Sunday. United In Focus reported that the reasons behind Ronaldo’s decision are unclear, although it is possible that he believes the warmer weather will help him to recover.

The trip caused surprise among the Man Utd dressing room given the significance of the fixture, said sources. Ronaldo’s teammates reportedly felt that his presence at the stadium could have been beneficial even though injured players are not obliged to attend matches.

According to The Sun, he flew to Portugal after being axed from Man Utd team for their derby defeat. He was said to be stunned to be told by interim-boss Ralf Rangnick that he would not be starting against Manchester City. Rangnick reportedly said that Ronaldo could make an impact from the bench, and that the boss wanted fresh legs for the match. But the 37-year-old footballer was said to be furious at being axed, and insisted he could make an impact from the start.

Ronaldo had been feeling positive in training last week and was reportedly looking forward to the clash with Manchester City at the Etihad. But on Friday, Rangnick was told by the club’s medical department that Ronaldo had a hip flexor injury. After Sunday's 4-1 defeat, Rangnick insisted that he has to believe his medical department.

On Saturday night, rumors about Ronaldo being pulled out of the squad had started spreading online. It was started by Instagram account, cr7.0_lendario, which is followed by Ronaldo. According to a post, Man Utd’s manager "wants to enter with a different strategy in tomorrow’s game and has chosen to defend himself more, a purely tactical choice. Ronaldo won’t even be on the bench.” Ronaldo’s sister, Katia Aveiro, liked the post.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United sits on the floor dejected following the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford on February 26, 2022 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

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