Cristiano Ronaldo’s glorious return to Manchester United, engineered by club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, has come to a bitter end. The Portuguese star and Manchester United both announced that he would be leaving the Red Devils on Tuesday night.
The Portuguese star leaves just 453 days after joining the club again, following 28 goals in 54 appearances. His record might have remained impressive, however there was division over whether his presence was benefitting the team.
After missing preseason this past summer, there was hot debate over whether Ronaldo was trying to force a move from United. The Portuguese star claimed in his explosive interview with Piers Morgan that he felt as if he had been betrayed, disrespected and as if manager Erik ten Hag was trying to force him out – it became clear at this point that he definitely was looking for an exit.
The club made the announcement on Tuesday evening, with a short message of thanks for his contributions over two spells. Ronaldo himself made a short statement thereafter too, citing a new challenge as his reason for moving on.
Cristiano Ronaldo statement 🚨🇵🇹
“Following talks with Manchester United, we’ve mutually agreed to end our contract.
I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change.
It feels like the right time to seek a new challenge.
I wish Man Utd all the best”. pic.twitter.com/rQTxEIjrLA
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 22, 2022
Coming less than 48 hours ahead of Portugal’s opening World Cup fixture, just as that infamous interview came just a week before the World Cup began, is questionable timing to say the least. His home country might be the last fanbase where Ronaldo is universally adored, but teammates and supporters might be wondering exactly how this helps the Portugal team. Fans will be able to see the reception he gets at 17:00 CEST against Ghana on Thursday.
It is also difficult to see where Ronaldo goes from here. It seems unlikely any clubs competing in the Champions League in the top five leagues would be willing to take a risk on him from here. Chelsea are the only side that have been linked with him in recent months as his discontent became apparent. Few top clubs would be willing to sign off on a player, even with his goalscoring talents, who has shredded relations with an employer in such dramatic fashion.