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Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Coming on the heels of Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with British talking head Piers Morgan, in which he publicly aired his grievances with Manchester United's hierarchy, particularly manager Erik ten Hag, his second stint with the Premier League giant is done.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect,” the club said in a statement Tuesday. "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," Man United’s statement continued.
Similarly, Ronaldo issued his own statement through representatives.
"I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change,” he said. “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."
It’s hard to believe the split was ever going to be amicable after Ronaldo poured gasoline on his increasingly public feud with ten Hag, revealing to Morgan he had “no respect” for the Dutchman who’s been regularly benching him from the season’s start.
"I don't have respect for him [ten Hag] because he doesn't show respect for me," Ronaldo bluntly stated. "If you don't have respect for me, I'm never [going to] have respect for you."
"Not only the manager, but the other two or three guys who are around the club [at the senior executive level] – I felt betrayed [by them],” Ronaldo continued. “I don't care, people should listen to the truth.”
Ronaldo clearly hit a nerve with the club as his contract was set to expire this summer, but Man United’s brass expedited the striker’s ousting after he skewered them in the interview, specifically singling out the club’s failure to develop in his absence after his first spell at Old Trafford.
"Since [former Man United manager] Sir Alex left, I saw no evolution in the club,” Ronaldo said of his return to Old Trafford. “Nothing had changed. He [Ferguson] knows better than anybody that the club is not on the path they deserve to be. He knows. Everyone knows.”
“The people who don't see that. … It's because they don't want to see,” the superstar striker added. “They are blind."
Now, as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is well underway, it’s hard to imagine this won’t be a distraction for team Portugal and Ronaldo who, at age 37, is still seeking to win his first World Cup.
"The timing for me is my timing," explained a cavalier Ronaldo Monday during a presser in Doha, where team Portugal had been training. "I don’t have to worry about what others think. I am totally convinced this won’t have any influence on the national team.”
"Every player, manager, president and kit man, they all know who I am, what I think,” added CR7. “They know me since I was 11 years old. They won’t be influenced by what people say or write."
That's seems debatable, and distractions for Ronaldo and Portugal continue to stack up like Jenga blocks. England's Football Association revealed Wednesday that Ronaldo has been handed a two-match Premier League ban and a £50,000 fine for knocking a cell phone out of the hands of a 14-year-old at Everton. The altercation with the adolescent occurred just after Man United suffered a 1-0 loss at Goodison Park in early April. Additionally, the FA charged the now ex-Man United forward with improper conduct.
To make matters worse, potential landing spots for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner are dwindling by the minute. Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and now Newcastle have all reportedly rejected any chance of Ronaldo signing with them. There had been rumored interest from Chelsea's new owner Todd Boehly over the summer, but it's not clear if Ronaldo fits in manager Graham Potter's game plan for the London club.
Though his massive net worth will blunt any financial impact, the interview appears to have been a costly gambit, as he'll be missing his £500,000 weekly paycheck from Man United that could ultimately reach around £15.5 million.
That’s a pricey lesson in humility even for him.
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