Carlo Ancelotti refused to blame the officials after Real Madrid's 3-2 loss at Rayo Vallecano, putting Monday's defeat down to a "bad game".

Oscar Trejo scored the winner for Roya with a retaken second-half penalty, converted after the VAR penalised Dani Carvajal for encroachment, to condemn Madrid to their first defeat in LaLiga this season.

Los Blancos trail Barcelona by two points at the top-flight summit after just their second loss to Rayo in 21 league games.

Madrid are also without a win in their last two LaLiga outings after a 1-1 draw with Girona and coach Ancelotti acknowledged his side struggled at Vallecas.

"We knew they played like that, they were more forceful than us in the duels. It was a bad game, that's it," the Italian said.

"It cost us. We had to change our strategy and we didn't. Then, in the duels, we lost a lot when we were not capable of being as forceful as our opponent.

"Vinicius [Junior] missed two or three shots that he normally scores. [Marco] Asensio has done well. It hasn't been a good game for us."

Madrid profited from a touchline review in the first half, with referee Juan Martinez Munuera deeming Asensio to have been felled by Fran Garcia inside the area before Luka Modric converted to equalise following Santiago Comesana's opener.

But Ancelotti's side were on the receiving end of overturned decisions in the second half after referee Munuera again consulted the screen to give a penalty for handball against Carvajal for Trejo's winner.

Despite the contentious decision for the winning goal, Ancelotti insisted he had no complaints towards Munuera as he acknowledged the role the VAR can play in the decisions.

Asked about the referee, Ancelotti said: "I have no opinion, none. VAR is involved in these things.

"We lacked freshness and it's normal after so many games... We have to make an evaluation of this first part of the season, we've done well.

"We're in the Champions League last 16 and we're doing well in LaLiga."

Madrid host Cadiz on Thursday in their final game before the November break for the World Cup in Qatar.

Thibaut Courtois expressed his frustration at Real Madrid conceding "too many silly goals" after falling to their first LaLiga defeat of the season in a 3-2 loss at Rayo Vallecano.

Santiago Comesana netted a fifth-minute opener on Monday against Madrid, who have kept just two clean sheets in their first 13 LaLiga games, their lowest tally at this stage of a season since 2013-14.

Luka Modric's penalty and Eder Militao's header gave Madrid the lead before Alvaro Garcia's first-half equaliser, and Carlo Ancelotti's side were left frustrated by a contentious Oscar Trejo winner after the interval.

Trejo scored a retaken penalty after Dani Carvajal was penalised for encroachment following Courtois' initial spot-kick save, but the Madrid goalkeeper acknowledged his side were far from their best after the defeat.

"Rayo are having a great season, we knew it was going to be difficult, and we weren't up to the task in the first half," the Belgium international said.

"We conceded too many silly goals, due to mistakes or not being 100 per cent in the match.

"Then the penalty, bad luck. The referee told me that because of Carvajal, that's what they told him in the VAR, that he gets into the area earlier.

"Then I wanted to stay in the centre, but I threw myself and I had a better corner than the one I stopped. It's a shame, I saved the penalty and in the end everything changes. I hope it's our only defeat in LaLiga.

"With so many games, it may be normal that we are tired. The draw against Girona was more bad luck. Today was not our best day and Rayo played well."

While Courtois refused to criticise referee Juan Martinez Munuera, Madrid team-mate Lucas Vazquez questioned why the VAR and officials have not been as "rigorous" in other games this season.

"It was a complicated game, they got ahead very quickly, and although we turned it around, they equalised again and that hurt us," Vazquez said.

"It was difficult for us to find our football, and Rayo is a complicated team that today has been very good.

"But they [the referee and the VAR] send Trejo to shoot again and in other games they don't, they should always be just as rigorous."

Madrid trail LaLiga leaders Barcelona by two points and host Cadiz on Thursday in their last game before the World Cup break.

Oscar Trejo scored the winner with a contentious second-half penalty as Real Madrid missed the chance to return to the LaLiga summit after falling to a 3-2 defeat at Rayo Vallecano.

Carlo Ancelotti's side trail leaders Barcelona by two points after losing at Vallecas, where referee Juan Martinez Munuera and the VAR played a significant part on Monday.

Luka Modric's penalty and an Eder Militao header had put Madrid into the lead after Santiago Comesana's opener, before Alvaro Garcia equalised during a breathless first half.

Yet there was to be more drama when Dani Carvajal was deemed to have encroached as Thibaut Courtois saved a 67th-minute penalty from Trejo, who converted the retake to secure victory.

Comesana fired Rayo into a fifth-minute lead after angling a first-time left-footed shot past Courtois following Fran Garcia's whipped left-wing cross.

Martínez Munuera gave a 37th-minute penalty to Madrid after consulting the touchline monitor following a tangle of legs that saw Marco Asensio felled by Fran Garcia, with Modric coolly converting down the middle from the spot.

Militao directed a header into the bottom-left corner from Asensio's inswinging corner to give Madrid the lead, only for Alvaro Garcia to power a left-footed strike past Courtois to equalise three minutes later.

Courtois saved Trejo's penalty after Carvajal was adjudged to have handled in the second half – again following a review of the touchline monitor – but the Madrid right-back was penalised for encroachment, allowing the Rayo midfielder to find the bottom-right corner at the second attempt.

That was to prove the winner, although Madrid almost salvaged a draw when Rodrygo spurned a glorious 89th-minute chance, turning over Asensio's centre.

What does it mean? Madrid slip up again

With Liverpool confirmed as their next Champions League opponents in the last 16, reigning European and Spanish champions Madrid will have to improve both domestically and on the continent after faltering in back-to-back LaLiga games.

A 1-1 draw against Girona coupled with only Rayo's second win against Madrid in 21 LaLiga attempts will leave Ancelotti much to ponder with a game to go before November's World Cup break.

Andoni Iraola will have much to celebrate, though, despite his second-half dismissal for dissent, after Rayo won three league games in a row for just a second time under his stewardship.

Classy Comesana

Comesana appeared to be everywhere for Rayo against Madrid, scoring the opening goal with a coolly taken finish that belied his defensive-midfield position.

The Rayo man was a dominant force in the middle of the park as well, though, creating three chances and regaining possession eight times – both game-leading figures in just 79 minutes.

Defensive issues for Madrid

Madrid often relied on late fightbacks on their way to Champions League and LaLiga glory last season, perhaps masking their defensive issues.

But Los Blancos have come unstuck this term after keeping just two clean sheets in their first 13 LaLiga games, their lowest tally at this stage of a season since 2013-14 – also under Ancelotti.

What's next?

Madrid host Cadiz on Thursday in their last game before the World Cup break, while Rayo are at home to Celta Vigo on the same day.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone felt his side paid the price for "not being forceful" enough as a 92nd-minute Radamel Falcao penalty earned Rayo Vallecano a late 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Alvaro Morata's first-half strike looked to be enough to give Atletico their fourth straight LaLiga win, despite missing a number of chances to add a second goal.

They were left to rue not taking those opportunities, as the referee awarded a penalty after Jose Gimenez handled in the box from Randy Nteka's header, before Falcao fired home the penalty to deny his former side the win.

Simeone was frustrated over his side's inability to kill the game off, telling reporters: "We had good goal situations to score the second and close out the match.

"The second was not scored and we remain in a situation in which they can equalise.

"In the second half we had a lot of counter-attacks to finish the game, we didn't convert the much-needed second goal and we lost two important points."

The two dropped points Simeone referenced would have put Atletico just three points behind leaders Real Madrid, and the 52-year-old feels his players must be more ruthless in future.

When asked what his team did wrong against Rayo, Simeone replied: "Not being forceful.

"If you come up against the goalkeeper several times, it has to be a goal.

"You have to improve the forcefulness and train it and when that situation appears, there is the mettle to finish."

Radamel Falcao's 92nd-minute penalty frustrated former club Atletico Madrid as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday.

Atletico looked to be on course for a fourth straight LaLiga win after Alvaro Morata netted a first-time finish from their only shot on target of the opening 45 minutes.

Diego Simeone's men protected that advantage until the final seconds of normal time, when Jose Gimenez handled and then, following a short delay, Falcao netted from the spot.

A point at home leaves Atletico still third, but they lost further ground on champions and leaders Real Madrid, who are five points better off with a game in hand.

Atletico were ahead within 20 minutes, Antoine Griezmann winning the ball high up the pitch before delivering an inch-perfect cross to Morata, who exquisitely swept past Stole Dimitrievski.

Axel Witsel then dragged a shot wide of the left post as Simeone's side looked to add a quick second, but Rayo improved as the half continued, and Ivan Balliu stung the palms of Ivo Grbic with a fierce drive before the break.

Pathe Ciss had a decent chance to level soon after the interval but could only head wide, before Morata nodded off target at the other end.

Sergio Camello sent a low effort agonisingly past the right post as Rayo pushed for an equaliser, and it appeared as though Grbic's save from Falcao when one-on-one would deny the visitors.

However, Gimenez handled from Randy Nteka's header with time almost up, allowing Falcao to snatch a point against his old side.

Spain striker Raul de Tomas has agreed to return to Rayo Vallecano after a deal was confirmed with Espanyol.

The 27-year-old spent two seasons on loan at Estadio de Vallecas from Real Madrid between 2017 and 2019, before making a permanent move to Benfica, and then Espanyol.

However, as his move back to Vallecano has been completed outside the transfer and registration window, the player cannot feature for his new team until January. A lack of match action in the coming months means it is unlikely De Tomas will be named in the Spain squad for the World Cup later this year.

De Tomas – who has four caps for La Roja –scored 17 goals in 34 LaLiga appearances for Espanyol last season, but was keen to move to Vallecano before the transfer window closed.

That was not possible as negotiations stuttered, though they continued after the window closed, even leading to the player's agent Ivan Garcia being accused of headbutting Vallecano's president Raul Martin Presa, with the club releasing a statement on Saturday saying: "Ivan Garcia assaulted Raul Martin Presa, hitting him in the face with his head on Thursday night.

"Precisely because he was attacked, Raul Martin Presa called the police, went to the emergency room of a hospital centre to receive medical assistance and immediately filed a complaint against Ivan Garcia at the police station."

Nevertheless, Vallecano announced on Tuesday that a deal had been agreed to sign De Tomas, with reports suggesting the fee to be around €8million, with a further €3m in add-ons, and the club confirmed he had signed until 2027.

That falls some way short of Espanyol's supposed initial valuation of €30m, but the writing seemed to be on the wall when the player fell out with head coach Diego Martinez, and he has not featured for the Periquitos this season.

De Tomas made his Spain debut last November in the 1-0 win away to Greece in World Cup qualifying, and has since played for the national team against Sweden, Portugal and Czech Republic.

Barcelona's 2022-23 season got off to a slow start with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou.

After finally registering their new recruits on Friday, Robert Lewandowski, Andreas Christensen and Raphinha were handed debuts from the start, but could not provide the difference in a tame display that saw Sergio Busquets sent off late on.

Stole Dimitrievski was forced into action on several occasions but was never really tested, while Marc Andre ter Stegen had to be alert at the other end to prevent a third consecutive defeat to the Madrid outfit.

Barcelona came closest through Lewandowski, who saw a debut goal chalked off and hit another late effort just wide as the hosts failed to capitalise despite dominating possession.

It could have been a different story as Lewandowski took just 12 minutes to find the back of the net in LaLiga, chipping an effort over the onrushing Dimitrievski – but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

While Barcelona were in control, the best chance of the opening period fell to the visitors as Ter Stegen was called into action to keep Alvaro Garcia at bay after a fake shot left Ronald Araujo on the deck.

The visitors had another golden opportunity six minutes after the restart, pressing high to steal possession and Sergio Camello danced his way through the defence but was unable to hit the target.

Ansu Fati made a swift impact after his second-half introduction, testing Dimitrievski with a curling effort.

Fellow substitutes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Franck Kessie also came close, the former seeing an attempt cleared off the line while the latter found the net, but the hosts were again denied by the offside flag.

A frustrating night was further compounded during eight minutes of injury time as Busquets was dismissed after being shown a second yellow card for catching Radamel Falcao with a stray arm, while Falcao also had a goal disallowed for the visitors for offside in the closing minutes as both were forced to settle for a draw.

Jules Kounde is the only one of Barcelona's new signings who was not registered on the eve of the LaLiga season.

Barca head coach Xavi on Friday revealed the club were "very optimistic" that their new recruits would be registered, but all five may not be given the green light for their first match of the LaLiga campaign against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

It later emerged that Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie have been registered along with Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto, who signed new contracts

Centre-back Kounde's registration has not been sanctioned by LaLiga despite Barca having activated a fourth economic lever on Friday.

It had been reported that Kounde may be the last of the five new recruits the Catalan giants have brought in to be registered, given the big-money signing from Sevilla underwent surgery to repair a minor pelvis injury in June.

Barca have been busy raising funds to try and meet LaLiga's salary limits and sold a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million, having also agreed a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify and sold a percentage of broadcast rights.

The Blaugrana have lowered their wage bill by offloading players and could also sell Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who have both been linked with Chelsea.

Blaugrana head coach Xavi said in a press conference on Friday he was prepared for the possibility that some of his new men may not be eligible to play this weekend.

He told reporters: "We are working hard and everyone at the club is very positive. Maybe not 100 per cent [of the players will be registered], but we are optimistic. We'll see. The club has signed very well, I am very excited about the players we have signed. We have time until tomorrow and now we are very optimistic."

Barca are expected to make Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso their next signing and they continue to be linked with Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva.

Barcelona coach Xavi refused to rule out exits for Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the eve of their LaLiga opener, acknowledging "anything can happen".

Manchester United's interest in De Jong has evolved into one of the longest-running sagas of the transfer window, while Chelsea are being strongly linked with both the Netherlands midfielder and Barca striker Aubameyang.

Although Xavi and president Joan Laporta have expressed confidence Barca will overcome their financial woes to register a host of new acquisitions ahead of Saturday's fixture against Rayo Vallecano, they are trying to offload players and reduce the wage bill.

While Xavi still considers both men key players, he made it clear they may depart before the transfer window closes.

"From here until August 31 a lot can happen, but I like Aubameyang a lot," Xavi told a news conference on Friday.

"He helped us a lot, he's an important player for me, he arrived here with a lot of humility, a good work ethic, so we'll see what happens."

On De Jong's future, the Blaugrana boss added: "It's the same as Aubameyang, he's an important player and he's part of the squad. 

"If I can use him, great. From now until the 31st we will see what possibilities there are and where we are with regards to our participation in the market. 

"From now until August 31, anything can happen with Frenkie and with any players in the squad."

Reports have suggested tensions are high between De Jong and the club after he appeared to be jeered by a group of supporters while arriving at training earlier this week.

But Xavi denies there is any ill-feeling towards De Jong, who joined from Ajax for a reported fee of €75million in 2019.

"I didn't hear whistles, I heard applause," Xavi claimed. "People are able to express how and when they want, I'm here to try to improve the squad and make a cohesive unit. 

"It depends on how you perform on the pitch whether they support you or whistle. I think Frenkie can help the squad very well, he's helped the club also and I have no complaints."

 

One player who is set to leave Barcelona is young midfielder Nico Gonzalez, who declared on Wednesday he would be joining Valencia on a season-long loan.

Nico made 37 appearances for Barca last season – although only 17 were starts – and Xavi revealed the 20-year-old asked to leave.

"He came to me three weeks ago. I insisted that he continue because he would have minutes. I like Nico," Xavi said. "But a few days ago, he came back and told me that there was a team where he would play. 

"He has been brave and is going to Valencia. I hope he comes back more mature because it will be important for the future of Barca. 

"For the midfield we have Busquets, [Miralem] Pjanic, [Franck] Kessie, Frenkie, Sergi Roberto, and even [Andreas] Christensen who can play there."

Xavi says Barcelona are "very optimistic" that their new signings will be registered, but they may not all be given the green light for their first match of the LaLiga season against Rayo Vallecano.

Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie have arrived at Camp Nou since the end of last season, but there is uncertainty over whether they will be able to make their competitive debuts on Saturday.

The Catalan giants have been busy trying to raise funds in order to meet LaLiga's salary limits ahead of the season and activated a fourth economic lever on Friday.

Barca sold a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million, having also agreed a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify and sold a percentage of LaLiga broadcast rights, 

They have been able to lower their wage bill by offloading players and more could follow, with Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reportedly targets for Chelsea.

Blaugrana head coach Xavi says he is prepared for the possibility that some of his new men may not be eligible to play this weekend.

He told reporters: "We are working hard and everyone at the club is very positive. Maybe not 100 per cent, but we are optimistic. We'll see. The club has signed very well, I am very excited about the players we have signed. We have time until tomorrow and now we are very optimistic."

Xavi maintained his plans for the opening match of the season have not been badly disrupted by being unsure over who will be available.

He said: "It has little influence, as at the end of the day we work on different systems, different variants. Either one or the other players, very few things change.

"We pretty much have two players for each position. We work the same, we don't have a different system with the way we play in attack. Not a lot varies and I insist that right now we are very optimistic of registering the players."

Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva and Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso continue to be linked with Barca, with just under three weeks before the transfer window closes.

A deal to sign Alonso is reported to have been agreed and Xavi made it clear he is eager to do further business.

"We are still planning ahead, that's a reality," the former Spain midfielder said. "We are going to see what we are going to do until August 31.

"Of course, we need to have players leave in order for others to come, but the transfer market is open until the 31st and there is work to be done for all of us. We'll see."

Xavi also revealed he wanted Nico Gonzalez to stay rather than join Valencia on loan for the season, adding: "[Nico] came to me three weeks ago. I insisted that he continue because he would have minutes. I like Nico.

"But a few days ago he came back and told me that there was a team where he would play. He has been brave and is going to Valencia.

"I hope he comes back more mature because it must be important for the future of Barca. For the midfield we have [Sergio] Busquets, [Miralem] Pjanic, Kessie, Frenkie, Sergi Roberto, and even Christensen, who can play there."

Barcelona have activated a fourth economic lever in a bid to ensure their new signings can be registered for LaLiga, announcing the sale of a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million.

The Catalan giants, who have signed the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie despite ongoing financial troubles, have reportedly failed to register their new acquisitions for the upcoming league campaign.

President Joan Laporta has been working to raise funds to allow Barca to meet LaLiga's salary limits ahead of the season, and said last week the club had made a "great effort" to do so. 

Last month, 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios was sold to the company Socios.com for €100million, while the Blaugrana have also sold 10 per cent of their LaLiga broadcasting rights to American investment firm Sixth Street, among other measures.

But with reports suggesting the club were still struggling to meet LaLiga's rules, they have announced a second deal for an equivalent stake in Barca Studios.

"FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios to the company Orpheus Media, managed by Mr Jaume Roures, an audiovisual production company with a long history of producing content, for 100 million euros," read a club statement.

"The agreement complements the one signed on 29 July with Socios.com and will help to accelerate the growth of the club's digital, NFT and Web.3 strategy.

"With this investment the strategic partners in Barca Studios show confidence in the value of the project and the future of digital content in the world of sport."

Reports suggest that while Barca are prioritising the registration of their new signings, they are still eyeing a move for Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva has been touted as another target.

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign when they host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, though it remains to be seen how many of their new stars can feature.

Barcelona have activated a fourth economic lever in a bid to ensure their new signings can be registered for LaLiga, announcing the sale of a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million.

The Catalan giants, who have signed the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie despite ongoing financial troubles, have reportedly failed to register their new acquisitions for the upcoming league campaign.

President Joan Laporta has been working to raise funds to allow Barca to meet LaLiga's salary limits ahead of the season, and said last week the club had made a "great effort" to do so. 

Last month, 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios was sold to the company Socios.com for €100million, while the Blaugrana have also sold 10 per cent of their LaLiga broadcasting rights to American investment firm Sixth Street, among other measures.

But with reports suggesting the club were still struggling to meet LaLiga's rules, they have announced a second deal for an equivalent stake in Barca Studios.

"FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios to the company Orpheus Media, managed by Mr Jaume Roures, an audiovisual production company with a long history of producing content, for 100 million euros," read a club statement.

"The agreement complements the one signed on 29 July with Socios.com and will help to accelerate the growth of the club's digital, NFT and Web.3 strategy.

"With this investment the strategic partners in Barca Studios show confidence in the value of the project and the future of digital content in the world of sport."

Reports suggest that while Barca are prioritising the registration of their new signings, they are still eyeing a move for Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva has been touted as another target.

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign when they host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, though it remains to be seen how many of their new stars can feature.

Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong has had a long-running transfer saga this off-season.

The 25-year-old Dutchman has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou amid Barcelona's financial issues, despite their off-season spending landing Robert Lewandowski among others.

The Catalans need to offload players before they can register new signings and De Jong is surplus to requirements.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO HIJACK MAN UTD MOVE FOR DE JONG

Chelsea have commenced talks with Barcelona in a bid to hijack Manchester United 's move for Frenkie de Jong, reports The Athletic.

Manchester United have actively pursued the Dutch midfielder this off-season but he has been unwilling to leave the Blaugrana for Old Trafford, creating a stand-off.

De Jong, who is still owed deferred wages by Barcelona, is more open to moving to Chelsea than United, according to the report. 

ROUND-UP

–  Chelsea are also considering a move for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claims Fabrizio Romano. The Blues have already held talks with former Arsenal man's representatives.

– Sky Sports reports that Manchester United's pursuit of 19-year-old Slovenian forward Benjamin Sesko is heating up, having held initial discussions with his club, Austrian champions Salzburg. Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea have also spoken to Sesko's agent.

Chelsea remain keen on Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana and will offer him £200,000 per week according to the Mail. The Foxes want £85million for the Frenchman.

– The Sun reports that West Ham have agreed to a £35m deal with Lille for Belgian midfielder Amadou Onana. The Hammers still need to thrash out a personal agreement with Onana.

Juventus are interested in signing Udinese left-back Destiny Udogie according to Il Bianconero, while the Daily Mail claims Antonio Conte's Tottenham are also keen on him.

– Diario Sport reports that Rayo Vallecano president Raul Martin Presa has reached a deal with Diego Costa, who wants to return to Spain after time in Brazil.

Borussia Dortmund could be set to spend €30million to sign Almeria forward Umar Sadiq according to Mundo Deportivo. Dortmund are looking for cover as Sebastian Haller is absent due to a testicular tumour.

Cristiano Ronaldo has appeared to confirm he will make his return to the Manchester United side for Sunday's friendly with Rayo Vallecano.

The Portugal international has yet to feature in pre-season amid widespread reports he is seeking a move away from Old Trafford, less than a year on from returning to the club.

Further doubts were raised over Ronaldo's future when he was not included as part of United's 21-man travelling party ahead of Saturday's meeting with Atletico Madrid in Oslo.

However, responding to a tweet from a fan page announcing he would not play in either of United's friendlies this weekend, Ronaldo replied: "Sunday, the king plays".

Should he feature against Rayo, it will be the first time Ronaldo has put on the United shirt since the 4-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on May 7.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner sat out the final game of last season through injury and was not present for the Red Devils' four friendlies on their tour of Thailand and Australia.

Ronaldo was back at United's Carrington training base this week for talks, but widespread reports suggest he is still seeking a move to a team competing in the Champions League.

He scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) netted more – but United still finished in sixth with their lowest ever points tally.

The 24 goals Ronaldo scored in all competitions in 2021-22 were 14 more than next-best Bruno Fernandes, with no other United player reaching double-figures in a dire season.

Ronaldo was particularly active on social media on Friday, having earlier responded to a post suggesting his agent Jorge Mendes had held talks with United's hierarchy.

"Impossible not to talk about me [for] one day," he wrote. "Otherwise the press makes no money.

"You know that if you don't lie, you can't get people's attention. Keep going that one day you [get] some news right."

Erik ten Hag will face Rayo Vallecano in his first home game in charge of Manchester United.

United start their pre-season campaign with a clash against Liverpool in Thailand on July 12, before heading to Australia for friendlies with Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.

The Red Devils will then head to Oslo as Ten Hag faces Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid on July 30.

United return to Manchester to cap off their pre-season schedule with a friendly against LaLiga side Vallecano at Old Trafford.

That will be Ten Hag's first game at the Theatre of Dreams and United's football director John Murtough hopes the fans will give him a warm welcome.

"Pre-season is all about preparation and this is a great opportunity for those squad members who may not have featured in some of our earlier tour and pre-season matches to get valuable minutes on the pitch – and where better to do this than Old Trafford?," he said, as quoted by United's official website.

"This will be the new manager's first match at Old Trafford, and I am sure the fans will provide him with a warm welcome."

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