Editor-in-Chief Dan Hunt reports on the controversial interview by Cristiano Ronaldo that led to his release from Manchester United
The Portuguese international’s Manchester United contract was terminated by mutual consent last month after Cristiano Ronaldo condemned the club in an interview with Piers Morgan. The interview, broadcast on TalkTV on 14th November, included allegations that United boss Erik ten Hag had ‘betrayed’ him, and lambasted the club’s footballing stagnancy in recent years, denouncing it as a ‘marketing club.’
In the days following these comments, the club began investigating whether the interview breached his contract, until finally an agreement was made between the Red Devils and the player to cut his £385,000-a-week deal short.
Ronaldo returned to United with much fanfare in August 2021, signing from Italian giants Juventus for an initial fee of £12.85m. The then 36 year-old signed a 2 year contract with the option for an extension, and the move was hailed by some as the blockbuster signing the club needed to inspire an inconsistent team. In his first season, the six-time Ballon D’Or winner scored 18 goals and registered 3 assists in 30 Premier League games, and scored 6 in 7 games in the Champions League.
This season, however, things have been different. After failing to find a new club in the summer and falling out of favour with the new manager, Erik ten Hag, conflict was inevitable. Ronaldo’s playing minutes this season have largely been limited to cameo appearances off the bench and Europa League fixtures, leading to him accusing ten Hag of not respecting him during the televised interview.
When they signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United knew what they were getting. They were signing an incredible talent, with a dazzling history at the club and across the continent – but they were also signing a Hollywood star of the footballing world with an ego as gargantuan as his footballing pedigree. As one of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo, almost justifiably, expects to play every week at the highest level, but with ten Hag embarking on a long-term project at Old Trafford that seeks to end the club’s rut once and for all, there is little energy and willpower to appease a 37-year old player who is in the twilight of his glittering career.
There has been much speculation about where he will go next. Ronaldo is said to be looking for a Champions League club, but with age, astronomical wage demands and questions over his character not on his side, a move to the Middle East is looking more likely. Reports last Monday suggested a deal was close with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr allegedly worth £173m-a-year, which would also see him act as an ambassador for football in the country. However, with rumoured interest from Inter Miami in the MLS, Ronaldo may decide to bide his time to consider where his footballing future lies.
Ronaldo’s interview and the fallout from it is a small stain on an otherwise remarkable career, and while his legacy at Manchester United has been tainted, he remains one of the greatest players to grace the beautiful game. Perhaps the interview was Ronaldo’s attempt to force his way out of United and have a last hurrah before calling time on his playing days. Regardless though, whichever club he signs for next will inherit an impressive (and expensive) talent capable and willing to use his platform to serve his own interests. As well as one that still believes he is able to perform at the highest level.
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