MANCHESTER UNITED legend Jaap Stam fears Cristiano Ronaldo may “become a problem” due to his new role under Erik ten Hag.
The 37-year-old has started just once from six Premier League games this season, with the striker yet to get on the score sheet.
His rustiness was there for all to see when he messed up a skill move twice in the warm-up before Sunday’s 3-1 win over Arsenal.
Despite failing to secure a move away from Old Trafford in the summer, Ronaldo was all smiles when Antony broke the deadlock against the Gunners.
Fans also praised the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner for his leadership as he encouraged his team-mates after Bukayo Saka equalised.
Commenting on the Portugal international, former centre-back Stam has declared that while he looks to be having a positive influence, he is not sure how long Ronaldo will be happy for.
Speaking exclusively to SunSport on behalf of bet365 about Ronaldo’s role under Ten Hag, Stam said: “I don’t know if he will become a problem.
“I think Cristiano is a fantastic player. He’s still a quality player, great goal scorer.
“He came in after pre-season not being fit enough and the manager’s making decisions, using players who are fit and ready to start.
“Also, in terms of how he wants to play and the intensity of player, but Ronaldo is a player who wants to play every game.
“I don’t think he’s the type of player who has his quality and has achieved what he has on the pitch to be happy sitting on the bench, so he’s going to show himself and push the others to perform.
“Having someone like him around is great for the squad and the manager.
“I was at the game against Arsenal and from the sidelines it looks like Ronaldo is having a positive influence on the players from the bench, before the game, during it, more or less now he’s settled with his role and how the team are doing.
“I can’t believe he’s agreeing with the role he has now and is happy with it.
“A player of his stature and how he is as a man, he’ll be knocking on the manager’s door. He’s a great professional so eventually he’ll get his goals for the team.”
Stam then went on to state he views Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes as being the two main leaders in United’s dressing room as he failed to mention club captain Harry Maguire.
He remarked: “If you look at the team, it looks like Bruno is one of the leaders.
“You’re still looking at Ronaldo too in terms of how he’s acting – he’s got a positive reaction when you see him on the pitch talking to players, giving confidence to players.
“With his quality, his experience and how people look at him, how players look at him, he’s still a very important figure in the dressing room as well and being positive to the score, and helping them out even when he’s not playing. I think Bruno is trying to do so.
“Even youngsters like our new players – like [Lisandro] Martinez coming in, and talking to players, and trying to bring confidence to players, and [Christian] Eriksen.
“I don’t know if he’s a natural leader as well, he’s got the experience of course.
“If you look at potential leaders for now, I would say that Bruno and Ronaldo are the two who have got a lot of influence in the dressing room.”