Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement with immediate effect following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
United issued a 67-word statement on Tuesday evening announcing they had reached a mutual agreement with the player to terminate his contract.
Ronaldo’s interview on TalkTV – aired in two parts on Wednesday and Thursday last week – saw the 37-year-old criticise the club and manager Erik ten Hag, who the player says he has “no respect” for.
The Portugal forward also claimed members of the United hierarchy were trying to force him out of Old Trafford and doubted him when he said he could not attend pre-season because his daughter was ill in hospital.
United said they would consider their response to Ronaldo’s comments “after the full facts have been established” and have now decided to part ways with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Ronaldo’s key quotes – a snapshot of his full interview
- ‘I feel betrayed by Man Utd | I have no respect for Erik ten Hag’
- ‘Man Utd doubted me over my sick daughter when I missed pre-season’
- ‘Glazer family don’t care about Man Utd | United have stopped on a clock’
- ‘Man City move was close but Sir Alex Ferguson changed everything’
- ‘Youngsters don’t care but Diogo Dalot and Lisandro Martinez are different’
- ‘Roy Keane is the best captain I ever had but Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney are not my friends’
- ‘I never saw Ralf Rangnick as the boss | Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did a good job’
- ‘I regret leaving Old Trafford vs Tottenham – I felt provoked’
- ‘I turned down €350m Saudi move | I don’t know if I’ll still be at Man Utd after World Cup’
- ‘I would be happy if Arsenal win the Premier League’
- ‘Lionel Messi is magic | I want to play until I’m 40’
A club statement read: “Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.
“The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future.
“Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team’s progress under Erik ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch.”
Ronaldo rejoined United for a second spell last year but he had fallen out of favour this season under new manager Ten Hag.
The 37-year-old issued his own statement which read: “Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early.
“I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change. However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge.
“I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future.”
Man Utd make Ronaldo’s exit ‘clean and quick’
United wanted Ronaldo’s exit done “cleanly and quickly” and in as dignified a way as possible – not only to minimise distraction at Old Trafford but also to show respect to Portugal during the World Cup.
Sky Sports News learned last week United do not accept some of the criticisms Ronaldo made in the interview.
Ronaldo criticised the club for a lack of investment in the 13 years since he first left Old Trafford. Sources have insisted United have invested in their facilities – notably the training ground, restaurant and swimming pool.
The Portugal forward was also critical of Ten Hag but sources insisted Ronaldo was treated with respect by the club and the manager. In news conferences, Ten Hag always maintained Ronaldo had been given time off in pre-season to deal with family matters.
It has been confirmed to Sky Sports News there was an offer from Saudi Arabia in the summer, which United would have accepted but Ronaldo did not want to make the move.
There were no other official offers for the player in the last transfer window.
‘A sensible decision’ | ‘Man Utd fans will wish him well’
United We Stand Editor Andy Mitten to Sky Sports News:
“It’s the sensible thing. After that interview last week this is the right decision. The club didn’t want to hang around, they wanted to come to an agreement with Cristiano Ronaldo’s people.
“He didn’t want to be at Manchester United. He wanted to leave the club, that’s been true for four or five months now and he’ll get his wish and both parties will move on.
“History will still remember Cristiano Ronaldo well as a Manchester United player, probably the best player I have ever seen play for Manchester United in his first spell at Old Trafford – and he was a success last season.
“This season has not been a success and it’s been frustrating watching him and seeing his decline in real time. But he feels that he can still contribute a lot as a footballer, that’s just not going to be at Manchester United.
“I think most Manchester United fans will wish him well so long as he’s not at Liverpool or Manchester City.”
Neville: Ronaldo knew interview would end his Man Utd career – but I’m not against him
On Friday, Sky Sports’ Gary Neville said there was “no way back” for Ronaldo at Manchester United following his interview.
“He wouldn’t have done this interview if he wanted a way back. He knew it would bring the headlines it has and be the end of his Manchester United career,” said Neville.
“[Man Utd] know they have to terminate Cristiano’s contract or they basically open up a precedent so any player can criticise them in the future.”
Asked for his thoughts and whether he was against Ronaldo, who criticised his former team-mate in the interview, Neville replied: “It’s not true, what he said, but all’s fair in love and war.
“I live in the game of criticism and know I have to accept it, and I get plenty of it back. I love all my team-mates I played with, including Cristiano.
“I’m not against Ronaldo – far from it. I couldn’t have any more admiration for him, I couldn’t have any more respect for him. He’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen and he’s the most talented player I ever played with.”
Read every word of what Neville had to say – including how the separation between Ronaldo and Man Utd could have been handled in a more civil way by player and club.
Ronaldo on his damaged relationship with Ten Hag – and the stats which support the manager
“I understand that in a new job [you try to make an impression.] Manchester was so bad in the last five years that they should clean the house, let’s say it in that way,” said Ronaldo.
“But the way they approach, the way the press make this so big. I really understand in the beginning because I didn’t do the pre-season, I don’t start to play, but going more further than that.
“Other things happen that people, they don’t know. And I’m not hiding that the empathy with the coach is not good. I’m honest.”
One of Ronaldo’s standout quotes about Ten Hag from his interview was: “I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t have respect for me.”
That was a big change of stance after he gave an interview to Man Utd in June saying he was happy at the club and urged for Ten Hag to have time at Old Trafford following his arrival from Ajax.
Were Ronaldo’s new jabs at Ten Hag simply in reference to his lack of starts in the Premier League this season?
It’s not clear because, after all, this is a player who was given the captain’s armband soon after walking out of the team’s win over Tottenham before full-time. When United were thrashed at Manchester City, Ten Hag said he did not sub Ronaldo on “out of respect for his big career”.
United felt they bent over backwards to accommodate Ronaldo and Ten Hag always insisted he was an important part of his plans.
What United did not do was indulge Ronaldo and guarantee him a starting spot. He was their top scorer last season but with Ten Hag now in charge the stats back up the Dutchman’s use of Ronaldo so far.
When Ronaldo does not start in the Premier League this season, United’s win rate trebles, their points return doubles, their scoring rate quadruples and the team runs, on average, 4km more per game.
Where next? “I’ve had many offers…”
During his interview with Morgan, Ronaldo confirmed he had been offered a two-year contract worth €350m (£305m) from a Saudi Arabian club. However, he was insistent that he also had interest from top European sides, despite no offers being made for him in the summer transfer window.
“I will be honest with you, I didn’t have many, many clubs but I have many, many offers of the other clubs,” said Ronaldo. “What the press keep saying, the garbage, is that nobody wants me, which is completely wrong.”
So what are the options for Ronaldo, who insists he wants to play until he is 40?
If Champions League football is still a major driver for him – and his statistical battle in that competition with Lionel Messi was mentioned as a factor when his future was being discussed in the summer – then the major clubs will all be linked, from a return to Real Madrid to Bayern Munich and even United’s Premier League rivals Chelsea. And what of the prospect of him linking up with Messi and co at Paris Saint-Germain?
That would be fantasy football – but perhaps the reality is that Ronaldo, even as a free agent, will have to take a pay cut to continue at the top level. He was the highest paid player in the Premier League by some margin.
His performances at the World Cup could be a key factor in where he is playing football in 2023, too. If his recent struggles in front of goal for United continue – he has scored three in 16 this term – then it is hard to imagine clubs rushing to put together the large financial package required to sign him.
A romantic return to his first club Sporting had been complicated by their failure to progress into the Champions League knockouts and current league position outside of the qualifying spots for next year’s competition even before their president distanced the Portuguese side from a move.
If Ronaldo cannot secure that prestigious European deal, the door may open for a venture to the MLS or a big pay day elsewhere in the world.
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