Ronaldo leaves Manchester United after criticism of the club

November 22 (Reuters) – Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo is set to leave with immediate effect, the Premier League side announced on Tuesday, marking a bitter end to the Portugal captain’s second spell at Old Trafford after he retired felt cheated by the club.

An explosive interview with TalkTV this month – in which Ronaldo also said he doesn’t respect manager Erik ten Hag – had landed him on shaky ground at the club he returned to in August 2021, after winning eight majors from 2003 to 2009 won trophies with them.

United last week said they would only address Ronaldo’s comments after the full facts were established, adding last Friday that they had taken “appropriate steps” in response.

“Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Manchester United by mutual agreement with immediate effect. The club thank him for his immense contribution in two stints at Old Trafford, in which he scored 145 goals in 346 games, and wish him and his family all the best for the future.” United said in a statement.

“Everyone at United remains focused on continuing the team’s progress under Ten Hag and working together to succeed on the pitch.”

Last month, Ten Hag said Ronaldo refused to come on against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur when the striker went down the tunnel after being benched with just minutes of the game remaining.

The 37-year-old was then absent from the squad that faced Chelsea the following Saturday before returning to the side.

Ronaldo later said in the interview he regretted leaving against Spurs but added that his decision to walk away came because he felt “provoked” by Ten Hag.

Ronaldo said in a statement on Tuesday that he loves the club and the fans.

“…That will never change,” he added. “For me, however, it seems the right time to seek a new challenge. I wish the team every success for the rest of the season and for the future.”

Raphael Varane, Ronaldo’s France team-mate at United, said last week that the Portuguese’s comments had influenced the club’s players – many of whom are also at the World Cup in Qatar.

Ronaldo confirmed on Monday that an awkward handshake between himself and midfielder Bruno Fernandes, which was caught on camera and went viral, was the result of a joke between the Portugal and United team-mates.

He said he didn’t think his actions would affect Portugal’s squad, adding that he was delighted with the country’s chances of winning the World Cup.

Portugal start their campaign against Ghana on Thursday.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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