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Cristiano Ronaldo is seeking a Manchester United exit this summer out of fear that Lionel Messi will better his Champions League goalscoring record, according to Tony Cascarino.

United appear to have a battle on their hands to retain the services of the club icon after it was revealed on Saturday that the Portuguese superstar has requested to leave Old Trafford in the current transfer window, less than a year after he made a sensational return. It is thought the 37-year-old is keen to depart in order to play Champions League football next term – something which Erik ten Hag’s team cannot offer.

Following a catastrophic campaign last time out, United were left to settle for a spot in next season’s Europa League. Amid claims Ronaldo is desperate to see out the reminder of his playing days challenging for major honours, Cascarino declared he’s “suspicious” the Red Devils forward is determined to quit in order to preserve his phenomenal goalscoring record in Europe’s elite club competition.

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The United No.7 is the Champions League’s all-time record goalscorer having hit a staggering 141 strikes over the past 19 seasons. However, arch-rival Messi is just a mere 16 goals behind him.

Unlike Ronaldo at present, the Argentine ace will have the opportunity to add to his individual tally within the competition next season with current side Paris Saint-Germain. And Cascarino believes the United forward’s fear of seeing his record shattered by Messi is a key motive in his decision to exit Old Trafford this summer.

“Ronaldo is a player, as always, that has an ego,” Cascarino told talkSPORT. “A lot of it is about him but the teams he’s played in have been successful, so you always go with that as a team player.

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“Great, he scores goals, he gets the accolades, he’s one of the greatest that’s ever played the game. You can have all that and that’s fine, as long as you’re winning. When you don’t win, now you’ve got a problem.

“I said to you off-air, I’m a bit suspicious because he’s got 141 goals in the Champions League. Messi has got 125. He doesn’t want to not play Champions League football because he wants to be the greatest Champions League goalscorer of all time and that’s how Ronaldo is made.”

Ronaldo has featured in every single Champions League campaign since making his competition debut way back in 2003, during his first stint with United. The likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Napoli have all been linked with satisfying the striker’s craving for Champions League football next season.

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