Portugal coach Santos unimpressed with Ronaldo’s reaction to substitution | World Cup 2022

Fernando Santos has said he was deeply unimpressed with Cristiano Ronaldo’s behaviour as the forward left the pitch against South Korea and refused to guarantee that the 37-year-old would captain Portugal in Tuesday’s last-16 tie against Switzerland. The head coach insists Ronaldo has been dealt with following his latest outburst but considers the case closed.

Ronaldo reacted angrily after being withdrawn midway through the second half of Friday’s defeat by South Korea. He put an index finger to his lips as he left the field and later said he was irked by the opposition striker Cho Gue-sung for asking him to speed up his exit. “Before my substitution, one of their players was telling me to leave quickly,” Ronaldo said. “I told him to shut up, he has no authority, he doesn’t have to say anything.”

Asked about Ronaldo’s substitution at a press conference on Tuesday, Santos said: “Have I seen the images? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all. I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. But from that moment onwards everything is finished regarding that issue. These matters are resolved behind closed doors. It’s resolved. Full stop on this matter and now everyone is focused on tomorrow’s match.”

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Photograph: Caspar Benson

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Santos would not confirm whether Ronaldo would captain Portugal. “I only decide who is going to be captain when I reach the stadium,” Santos said. “I still don’t know what the lineup will be. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I’m always going to do and it’s going to be the same tomorrow. The other topic is solved. We have fixed that in-house and that’s it.”

Ronaldo became the first player to score in five World Cups when he converted a penalty against Ghana in their Group H opener. A free agent after leaving Manchester United, he is giving serious thought to a lucrative offer to join the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr. Ronaldo has received a formal proposal that would pay almost €200m (£173m) a season on a contract until 2025.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

“That is his decision – that’s what he has to deal with,” Santos said of Ronaldo’s future. “We are totally focused on the World Cup. That’s all that we spoke about.”

Portugal try to put Ronaldo to one side and switch focus on to Ghana | World Cup 2022

Fernando Santos puffed out his cheeks, ran his palm down his face and said a thousand words in one slightly exaggerated expression. To his left, Bruno Fernandes was fielding another question about the storm surrounding a clubless Cristiano Ronaldo, this time wondering whether Manchester United could possibly feel the same when domestic football resumes. Fernandes dealt with it as he had the previous few: his teammate’s departure was a personal issue, one to be respected and after all nothing lasts for ever.

The final word on the matter? It almost certainly was not as Santos, who was far more interested in amplifying the threat of Thursday’s opponents, Ghana, when his turn to answer came around, knew perfectly well. But the veteran coach appreciates the importance of a strong run, as a minimum,and was at pains to minimise the effect of his preening superstar’s enduring soap opera.

“It hasn’t even been discussed,” he said. “The conversation hasn’t come up at any moment, not only from him. If the players are talking about that in their rooms alone, I can’t say. They can do what they want but the important thing is they are absolutely focused and realistic about the challenges they are facing.”

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Taking him at this word, the task in hand will amply occupy Portugal’s thoughts. Santos is eight years in the job but the shine of stunning, if often dour, Euro 2016 triumph has long since faded. Portugal stalled in the last 16 at Russia 2018 and Euro 2020; they needed two playoffs to reach Qatar after losing at home to Serbia and, given the riches at Santos’s disposal, a similar level of underperformance this time is unthinkable.

Not quite able to drag himself away from the Ronaldo morass, Santos set off on a rambling comparison with Portugal’s squad from four years ago, who he said had been unsettled by the number of uncontracted players negotiating future employment. Ten of his players moved clubs that year. It “shifted the focus”, he suggested, but his point was that nothing of the sort has happened this time. Portugal, he said, are as integrated a unit as they have been in years.

Now they have to show it and the question, if Ronaldo’s off-field travails have been cast aside, is whether they should steer away from him on the pitch, too. It would be ambitious to ask a 37-year-old to spearhead a charge through an entire tournament at the best of times whether you intend to set a high tempo from the front or, as Santos had traditionally preferred, to spring forward on the break. That is doubly the case when he has been largely restricted to cameos all season and there is a sense that, whether in failure or a convincing tilt at glory, this will be the year Portugal finally have to move on.

They have the depth to do it: André Silva has become a competent Bundesliga striker and Bernardo Silva’s wiles need little advertisement. This looks to be the tournament that decisively thrusts Rafael Leão into the global consciousness and João Félix, although struggling with Atlético Madrid, should be able to make hay against most international back lines. Fernandes, meanwhile, thrives on exploiting the movement this quartet offer and Santos may find Portugal’s hopes of going far depend on discovering a workable balance in attack.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Realistically, they will kick off with Ronaldo front and centre but it was striking to hear Santos and Fernandes observe a change they have seen in the early group games. They were fresh from watching the first half of Morocco against Croatia; a mediocre affair that was nonetheless played at a fair pace and they made the point that a mid-season tournament means players are fitter, match sharp and not as weary as at the end of a domestic campaign. They made the parallel with last summer’s European Championship, saying the early fixtures then were noticeably more low-key.

Does that add to the pressure on Ronaldo to keep up the pace? Portugal certainly need to better their inconsistent group stage showings from last year, when they scraped through in third place by dint of a win over Hungary. No such fallback is available this time: Uruguay will run them close for first place in Group H and a languid display against Ghana, whose speed in transitions was noted by Santos, would jeopardise their claim to the top two.

Then again, things may equally move in a more appealing direction. Santos was asked whether Portugal could go all the way. “I have such a dream and it’s shared by all my players,” he said. “We have a vision and I believe we have the capacity to fight. We’re realistic but also very hopeful and confident and know we have a high quality team.”

Fernandes was asked about the clip when, upon joining up with the squad, he had given Ronaldo’s welcome short shrift. Ronaldo had mocked his late arrival and Fernandes said it was no big deal: he was frazzled from a delayed flight and simply had not seen the funny side. “He could laugh, I couldn’t,” Fernandes said.

A fast start against Ghana is needed to improve their collective humour.

Ronaldo wanted to be centre-stage but now has to head for the exit door | Manchester United

The saddest aspect of Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan was that so much of it was so accurate. He correctly identified that Manchester United has not evolved much since he left, that the club has been undermined by terrible decision-making. When historians of the future come to write of United’s post-Ferguson struggles, the transcript will provide a very useful precis. But in his diagnosis there is a blind spot: the worst decision United have made since 2013 was to re-sign him.

This, perhaps, is the tragedy of the great sportsman. Ronaldo may be a preening narcissist, and ego of such overwhelming gravity that he inevitably dominates any club for whom he plays, but he has also been one of the greatest footballers of all time and is all the more remarkable for having made himself so. The comparison with Lionel Messi is hackneyed but irresistible. Messi has often seemed almost diffident, as though a great talent acts through him and he a semi‑willing conduit. Ronaldo has, with tremendous single‑mindedness and strength of will, worked and worked to transform his ability into something extraordinary.

His dedication to self‑improvement made him great, but it is that same self‑absorption that makes him at times such a difficult teammate, that same self-belief that perhaps prevents him realising the extent to which his powers have waned.

And that, of course, is why he has been so outraged by what seem to him inexplicable snubs such as being left on the bench against Tottenham. It’s not that his form has dwindled. It couldn’t possibly be that it is best for the team if he is a substitute. It could only be that Erik ten Hag disrespects him.

But alongside that bristling self-assertion, underlying it, perhaps even provoking it, there is something else: insecurity. In Josh Robinson and Jonathan Clegg’s book Messi vs Ronaldo, there is a fascinating detail about Ronaldo, at the height of his Real Madrid fame, meeting a physio who had worked with him when he was in his teens at Sporting and handing him a printout of all his awards, as though he felt a need to justify himself and what he had done with his talent. In that, perhaps, there is still a glimpse of the weedy kid from a difficult background in Madeira, an outsider who was mocked for his provincial accent when he arrived in Lisbon. There is a vulnerability to his genius.

In practical terms, it makes little difference what has created this ego. Even in his first spell at United when he won three league titles and a Champions League, his reluctance to fulfil his defensive responsibilities meant that, in European games, he would be deployed at centre‑forward with Wayne Rooney moved to the left because he could be trusted to track his full-back.

Ronaldo was a brilliantly skilful player, but his desperation to be centre-stage created issues. He scored the equaliser when United beat Chelsea in the Champions League final in Moscow with the sort of header that would become a trademark but then, having missed a penalty in the shootout, he stood crying by himself on the halfway line as his teammates celebrated Edwin van der Sar’s decisive save from Nicolas Anelka in front of the United fans.

The Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, talks to Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, and Cristiano Ronaldo failed to resolve their differences. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

In that, perhaps, there was an echo of George Best, who was so disappointed by his ownperformance when United beat Benfica to win the European Cup in 1968 that he left the celebrations and, by his own account, got properly drunk for the first time. And, as with Best, United need to break their obsession with a brilliant number seven who is no longer what he was.

Ronaldo’s demons are different, but he was never a team man. That has always been the doubt, particularly as pressing became increasingly important. He won four Champions Leagues with Real Madrid and had a happy knack of scoring not just lots of goals but also decisive goals. But there was a reason Madrid were prepared to let him go. And so began a pattern that has defined his last five seasons. In three seasons at Juventus, Ronaldo scored 81 league goals, but the team got worse, and never scored as many in a single season as they had the year before he arrived.

At United it was similar. There were those who celebrated the 18 league goals he scored last season as a remarkable effort in a failing team, the only bulwark between United and humiliation, but the fact is rather that he was the antidote to a problem he caused. In 2020-21, without Ronaldo, United had a clearly defined if basic system, sitting deep and attacking at pace on the break and finished second, scoring 73 goals and totalling 74 points; the following season, with Ronaldo, that fluency was lost and they finished sixth, scoring 57 goals and totalling 58 points.

Ten Hag is a hard-pressing coach. His appointment at United meant that either he was going to undermined by Ronaldo or he was going to get rid of him, and it ended up being the latter. Ten Hag has been steely enough to do things his way, to cut through the celebrity fug that always surrounds Ronaldo. And, frankly, with his repeated strops, Ronaldo has made his task easier. There are very few now among regular match-goers who still think he should be in the side. This season, United have averaged 1.0 points per game in league matches he has started; 2.2 without him.

Ronaldo’s return was an extremely costly error, undermining not one but two coaches and apparently diminishing the confidence of a number of young players. In his solipsism, though, that seems not to concern him: there is Ronaldo and his quest for records and goals, and there is everybody else.

United fans should remember how Ronaldo was the first time round, should celebrate what he was, but his return has been a failure. Chasing past glories, yielding to the siren call of nostalgia, is rarely a successful way to run a football club. United have accepted Ronaldo is done; it may be that he soon has to accept that too.

Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Manchester United with immediate effect | Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United by mutual agreement with immediate effect, the club have announced. The move comes after the forward made a series of damning allegations in an interview.

United had appointed lawyers to explore potential action against Ronaldo for alleged breach of contract but their preferred option was to engineer his departure and that was confirmed on Tuesday.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect,” the club said. “The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford.”

Ronaldo’s allegations included that he is being forced out by the club, that senior executives lacked empathy after his newborn son died in April, that the owners, the Glazer family, do not care about the club, and that the manager, Erik ten Hag, does not respect him.

“Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early,” Ronaldo said. “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.”

The 37-year-old had been instructed not to return to the club’s Carrington training base after his World Cup participation with Portugal. On Monday at a press conference in Qatar he described himself as “bullet proof” and expressed no regret at his behaviour. “I don’t have to worry what others think,” he said. “I talk when I want to.”

With United intent on being rid of Ronaldo and the player wanting to leave the question was how – and how swiftly – his departure would unfold. The episode, and two instances since the summer of Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford early, bring an inglorious end to his United career.

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Ronaldo had a supremely successful six years at the club that ended in 2009 and his return in summer 2021 was greeted ecstatically by supporters.

‘I talk when I want to’: Cristiano Ronaldo on his Manchester United interview | Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed he is “bullet proof” and that the timing of the interview that may lead to his sacking by Manchester United is not a distraction to Portugal’s World Cup campaign.

Ronaldo was speaking at his nation’s World Cup training base for a first time since the allegations he made against United that have caused the club to explore potential legal action against the forward.

“Timing is always timing,” he said. “From your side it is easy to look at how we can choose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies. I don’t have to worry what others think. I talk when I want to – don’t have to worry what others think. I talk when I want to. Everybody knows. Please, don’t ask players about me. Ask about the World Cup.”

Ronaldo also described himself as “bullet proof” and denied there was friction with Bruno Fernandes, his United and Portugal teammate. A video of them together when joining up for the World Cup caused a view that there may be.

Ronaldo said: “I was playing around. His plane was late – I asked him: ‘Did you come by boat?”

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The 37-year-old is confident his interview will not have a negative effect on Portugal. “The players know me really well for many years and know the type of person I am,” he said. “It’s an ambitious group that is hungry and focused. So I’m sure it won’t shake the changing room*s concentration and focus.”

Portugal play their first game against Ghana on Thursday and Ronaldo said he was “feeling great” and that Portugal, winners of Euro 2016, were capable of securing a first World Cup. “I believe Portugal is the best team in this World Cup,” he said. “But we need to show it on the pitch.”

Bernardo Silva insists Ronaldo’s United drama will not distract Portugal in Qatar | World Cup 2022

Bernardo Silva has insisted that Cristiano Ronaldo’s acrimonious fallout with Manchester United is not a distraction for Portugal and described the mood in the camp as “top, top, top” before their World Cup campaign.

The Manchester City midfielder was speaking before Portugal’s opening training session at the Al Shahaniya Sports Club near Doha, with Ronaldo being the captain of Fernando Santos’s team.

United are considering legal action against Ronaldo following an interview in which he made a series of allegations about the club. Yet Silva denied Ronaldo’s situation is a distraction and was asked if he and other squad members have offered support to the 37-year-old.

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Silva said: “Top, top, top. The news that comes from England has nothing to do with the national team so I won’t say anything. It doesn’t concern me, it concerns Cristiano. I don’t have to comment. It’s a matter for Cristiano, I’m not a Manchester United player and even if I was I would not answer that because we’re in the national team so I’m not going to talk about it.”

Silva was asked if there is any friction between Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes’s, who is also in the Portugal squad and a United teammate, given the divisive nature of the centre-forward’s claims.

“I don’t see any strange atmosphere in our national team between Cristiano or Bruno,” Silva added. “Once again I say that it’s his issue, I don’t even play for this club. An issue that has to be resolved with the right person. It’s a situation with the club. I see him motivated and focused on the national team like all of us. It’s one more thing to help our country, it’s an individual matter. You only talk about it in press conferences when Portugal has a World Cup to play. I don’t understand your persistence on this subject, because there is nothing.”

Portugal’s opening match of Qatar 2022 is against Ghana on Thursday. Silva was asked if the team play any different when Ronaldo is not in the XI.

“It has to do with the fact that it is a different generation, different players. In the last eight years, almost all the players have changed, apart from two or three. It is a very strong generation, almost all of them play in the best leagues, in the best clubs. When Cristiano is not there, the national team has known how to respond, we are 26 [players] – it doesn’t matter if there’s one or the other [in the team], we’re going to do our best to represent our country,” he said.

Manchester United to sue Cristiano Ronaldo and ban him over interview | Manchester United

Manchester United have appointed lawyers to sue Cristiano Ronaldo for alleged breach of contract after claims made by the forward in a recent interview, with the club seeking a swift resolution to the issue.

It means Ronaldo will almost certainly never play for United again and it is understood the 37-year-old has been instructed not to return to the club’s Carrington training base after his participation with Portugal in the World Cup in Qatar.

When speaking to Piers Morgan on Talk TV Ronaldo made a series of allegations about United. These included that he is being forced out by the club, that senior executives lacked empathy after his newborn son died in April, that the owners, the Glazer family, do not care about the club, and that the manager, Erik ten Hag, does not respect him.

On Friday a club statement said: “Manchester United has this morning initiated appropriate steps in response to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent media interview. We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion.”

Ronaldo’s contract is worth about £500,000 a-week and expires in July. United had no prior knowledge of the interview given by Ronaldo, who wanted to leave in the summer. He is due to arrive in Doha on Friday at 11pm local time with the Portugal squadbefore the team’s first training session on Saturday afternoon.

Ronaldo is in his second spell at United after a supremely successful six years that ended in 2009 with his having won three Premier Leagues, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or. His individual contribution made him a hero for United fans and ranked him among the club’s greatest players.

Ronaldo’s return in summer 2021 was greeted ecstatically by supporters and hailed as a coup by Ten Hag’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjær. But in going public with his claims against United Ronaldo has seriously damaged this standing and status.

This followed his walking out before the end of the July friendly with Rayo Vallecano and October’s 2-0 league win over Tottenham. Despite this Ten Hag made Ronaldo captain for the 3-1 loss at Aston Villa on 6 November. It seems this will be his final appearance for the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo feels Manchester United ‘cut his legs’ as relations soured | Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo felt Manchester United had ‘cut his legs’ and did not want him to “shine” or listen to advice as his relationship with the club deteriorated.

The Portugal forward claimed United were trying to force him out and criticised manager Erik ten Hag while also saying the club’s owners, the Glazer family, do not care about the club.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner told TalkTV he did not respect Ten Hag, who took over at Old Trafford in the summer, and claimed a number of individuals at United were trying to push him to leave.

In Thursday night’s second instalment of the full interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored, Ronaldo gave further details of how he felt he had been “betrayed” as his return to United went sour.

“When I arrived at Manchester United, I always be available to help the team to do the good things, to put in the right spots, to compete with the best teams,” Ronaldo said.

“But it’s hard when they cut your legs and they don’t like you to shine and they don’t listen to your advice. I think I have words to advise to the club. I think I can help a lot, but when the infrastructure is not good …”

Amid speculation over whether he would be departing United over the summer, Ronaldo and other players left a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano before full-time – something new boss Ten Hag had labelled “unacceptable”.

In October, Ronaldo was a substitute for the 2-0 win over Tottenham and later walked off the bench before leaving the stadium, with Ten Hag saying the 37-year-old had refused to come on during the closing stages.

Cristiano Ronaldo (right) is currently in Qatar with Portugal.
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) is currently in Qatar with Portugal. Photograph: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Ronaldo did not feature for the next Premier League match against Chelsea.

“I think it was a strategy from the club for me to react that way,” said Ronaldo, who is currently on World Cup duty with Portugal. “I was very, very, very, very disappointed for the communication of Manchester United. To be honest, I never had a problem with any club, with any coach. And they suspend me three days, which I felt was a lot – and the level of sport, clubs, I felt a lot. It was a shame.”

Ronaldo, though, did regret leaving the stadium early.

“It’s difficult to tell you 100%, but let’s say I regret (it), but in the same way I felt provoked by the coach,” he said. “Not allowed for me, a coach to put me in three minutes in a game. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to teams.”

The former United team-mate Gary Neville had also been criticised by Ronaldo during his interview. Neville said on Thursday that United should cancel Ronaldo’s contract in the next few days.

Reflecting on his future, Ronaldo continued: “It is hard for me to say that I will not be back to Manchester United, but regardless, as you say, let’s see what’s going to happen. But as I told you before, the fans for me always will be on my side, will be always in my heart.

“I see during the days when I go to the streets, the love, the passion, that people have for me, the respect. I hope that they never forget the things that I will continue to do, not only in the past, but in the present too.

“Manchester will be always on my side, the fans will be always on my side; doesn’t matter what’s going to happen, and I appreciate the love that they send for me all the time.

“Even when I’m done play(ing), even when they criticise me, they always will be in my heart, so thank you to all the support. I hope to see you soon, and they always will be in my heart.”

Cristiano Ronaldo says Alex Ferguson advised against Manchester City move | Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has said he was close to joining Manchester City but a talk with Sir Alex Ferguson changed his mind. The forward also claimed younger players “don’t care” as much about football as his generation in his TalkTV interview with Piers Morgan.

Part one of the interview was aired on Wednesday night, following the drip feed of social media snippets this week. In it, Ronaldo confirmed he had spoken with Ferguson before his return to Manchester United last summer, with his former manager at Old Trafford telling him a move to City was “impossible”.

“I wouldn’t say that Manchester City wasn’t close,” Ronaldo said. “But as you know, my history in Manchester United, your heart, you’re feeling the way that you did before, makes the difference. And of course, as well, Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I spoke with him. He said to me ‘it’s impossible for you to come to Manchester City’. And I say ‘OK, boss’. I did [make] a conscious decision, and I repeat, I was with conscience that it was a good decision.”

Ronaldo also hit out at younger players making their way through the professional game, claiming “they don’t suffer – and they don’t care. Their hunger [is different] … I think they have things more easily, everything’s easy.”

“They don’t care – some ones, yes, but most of them no,” he added. “But for me that is not surprising because they are not going to have longevity in their careers. It is impossible. In my generation you see many players reach 36, 37, 38 at a high level and I think this generation you will count on one hand how many will reach that level.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Raphaël Varane has admitted Ronaldo’s interview – in which he fiercely criticised Manchester United’s owners and the manager, Erik ten Hag – has sent shockwaves through the squad.

In clips released on social media, Ronaldo told Morgan he did not respect Ten Hag and claimed a number of individuals at United were trying to force him out. The 37‑year‑old forward also claimed the Glazer family, owners since 2005, did not care about the club.

Jamie Jackson on Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell Man Utd comments – video

United are taking legal advice – and awaiting broadcast of the full interview – before issuing a response and while a statement did say their “focus remains on … continuing the momentum, belief and togetherness being built”, the effects of the interview are clearly being felt by the rest of the United players.

Varane, who is preparing for the World Cup with France, told the radio station Europe 1: “Obviously it affects us. We follow what is happening and what is being said. We try to calm the situation in our own way, we try not to get too involved in it.

When it’s a star like Ronaldo, even more so we try to take it with distance, that is to say that we do not try to change the situation alone, we are part of a collective. What I want is the best for my team so whatever the decision [by the club], as a player, we will accept it and give the best of ourselves.”

Ronaldo missed training with Portugal on Wednesday because of a stomach bug. It caps an eventful week for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has also been involved in awkward exchanges with his international teammates, Bruno Fernandes and João Cancelo. Portugal will get their World Cup campaign under way next week against Ghana.

Meanwhile, the France squad have announced they have pledged to financially support non‑governmental organisations and charities which work towards the protection of human rights.

The World Cup has been tainted by the appalling lack of protection for migrant workers who have endured exploitative, even deadly, conditions as Qatar prepared for the tournament while the country’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights has also cast a long shadow over the event.

“We are players, we have this way of expressing ourselves, but it’s human that we expressed this through this letter,” said Varane, France’s vice-captain.“It’s also a lot of light [shone] on us and we also want to express humanly what we feel.”

Joel Glazer to ‘make final decision’ on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United future | Cristiano Ronaldo

Joel Glazer will make the final decision about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club after the forward’s incendiary TV interview, according to sources close to the Manchester United co-owner.

Ronaldo’s position at United is considered untenable after saying in an interview that he felt “betrayed” and that the Glazer family do not care about the club. The 37-year-old forward also said he has no respect for the manager, Erik ten Hag, and singled out two former United teammates, Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville, after they criticised him.

But a person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Glazer will have the final say on any decision to sell the forward and it will be up to Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes to present potential clubs willing to buy him.

The source also said United’s hierarchy has backed Ten Hag’s handling of the player and were fully supportive of his decision to drop Ronaldo from the squad and order him to train away from the first team after the Portugal star refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham last month.

For the Premier League match against Fulham on Sunday, Ronaldo was left out of United’s squad for a second game in a row after the club said he had an unspecified illness. But he trained with Portugal’s national team on Tuesday as they began preparations for the World Cup in Qatar.

There was widespread speculation about Ronaldo leaving United even before the season started, but a potential exit is being complicated by the limited number of clubs that can afford to meet his reported salary of around £500,000 per week.

Ronaldo has six months remaining on his contract, and United’s lawyers are reviewing footage of his interview to determine the club’s legal position, the person with knowledge of the situation said.

In the excerpts of the interview that were released on Sunday evening, Ronaldo is heavily critical of Ten Hag, the owning Glazer family and the club in general. “I don’t have respect for [Ten Hag] because he doesn’t show respect for me,” Ronaldo told the interviewer Piers Morgan. “If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you.”

United officials have yet to see the full interview and had no knowledge that it had been conducted before excerpts started to circulate on Sunday. “The club will consider its response after the full facts have been established,” United said.

“Our focus remains on preparing for the second half of the season and continuing the momentum, belief and togetherness being built among the players, manager, staff and fans.”