Palhinha, 26, has made a total of 74 appearances for the club over the past two seasons, and has already made 12 appearances for his country despite only making his debut last year.
Despite his contract running until the summer of 2026, Palhinha could be tempted to leave should United come calling, with Sporting said to be looking for only £25million.
That’s where Ronaldo could come in, with Palhinha being open about his admiration for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner who he might well want to call both a club and international colleague.
He explained after making his Portugal debut: “Cristiano always put me at ease. I was used to seeing him on television since I was little, but the fact of being in front of him made my first call even more real.
“Being in the national team with him is a great source of pride for any player.”
The Mirror reports that United are ‘keeping tabs’ on the combative midfielder, with Sporting boss Ruben Amorim facing plenty of questions over his player.
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He said: “Palhinha is [ready] to play and is doing very well.
“I trust that I can stay with Palhinha, but football has things that we do not control, we know that the situation of the club and the country has not changed that much.
“I’m counting on Palhinha and I hope he continues.”
Although there is still time to secure deals in the current window, a summer move might be more likely should the new United boss consider the Portugal star to be an improvement.
Ralf Rangnick said of his January plans: “My focus is on the current players.
“We have enough players in the squad, there is no lack of players.
“Transfer in the winter only make sense if they help you and really help the quality.”