November 23 – Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United “with immediate effect”, days after he gave an explosive unauthorised interview attacking manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s owners.
The move marks a bitter end to the Portugal superstar’s second spell at Old Trafford after he said he felt “betrayed” by the club. It is not known where the 37-year-old will go next amid rumours of a possible move to Saudi Arabia.
“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,” United said in a brief statement.
In his own statement confirming his exit, Ronaldo commented: “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.”
Ronaldo, currently captaining his country at the World Cup, was left frustrated after being reduced to a fringe member of United’s first team this season.
Last month, ten Hag said Ronaldo had refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur when the forward walked down the tunnel with a few minutes of the game remaining after starting on the bench.
Portugal begin their campaign against Ghana on Thursday and Ronaldo insists he is unfazed by the drama created by his exit from United.
“The timing for me is my timing. I don’t have to worry about what others think. I am totally convinced this won’t have any influence on the national team,” he told a news conference in Qatar.
“Every player, manager, president and kit man, they all know who I am, what I think. They know me since I was 11 years old. They won’t be influenced by what people say or write.”
“Everything around Cristiano is always a reason for debate and talks,” Ronaldo added. “We see it on the TV news. It’s normal. I understand it. But I will repeat once again: the environment at the national team is excellent.”
Meanwhile Manchester United’s owners the Glazer family say they are considering selling the club as they “explore strategic alternatives”.
The Americans bought United for £790 million in 2005 but have suffered years of protests from fans about the way they are running one of the world’s most famous clubs. United have not won the Premier League title since 2013 and have not won a trophy since claiming the Europa League and EFL Cup in 2017.
“As we seek to continue building on the club’s history of success, the board has authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives,” said executive co-chairmen and directors Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximises the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future.
“Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
A statement from the club said the process “will include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale” to enhance “the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders”.
“There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the company. Manchester United does not intend to make further announcements regarding the review unless and until the board has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring a formal announcement.”
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