Euro 2020 Special

Cristiano Ronaldo Set To Leave Manchester United In January As Relationship Reaches Breaking Point

Manchester United’s long love story with Cristiano Ronaldo continues to unravel with each passing week, as the relationship between one of the greatest footballers of all time and the Old Trafford club continues to sour. Tensions that were brewing for a long time burst publicly when Ronaldo walked out of their game against Tottenham Hotspur last month. While he returned to their starting XI this week after being dropped for the game against Chelsea, the Red Devils are yet to figure out how to fit the five-time Ballon d’Or winner into their strategy. 

This is not the first time that Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club has come into doubt. But unlike the previous time, when the Portuguese captain wanted to leave the club, it is the club and its management that now seems eager to let go of the superstar.



Fans and critics were ecstatic when Manchester United announced in August 2021 that they had reached an agreement with Juventus to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. United paid a hefty price for Ronaldo – £12.8 million for the transfer and an annual salary of around £20 million apart from performance bonuses and rewards. He was given the royal treatment by both the club and his teammates. Edinson Cavani even gave up the iconic No.7 jersey back to Ronaldo.

The contract was signed for two years, with an optional extension for another year. There is no minimum fee release clause in Ronaldo’s contract, which means that the Red Devils can simply allow for a free transfer of the star if both parties mutually agree. 



Making his second debut at Old Trafford in September against Newcastle United, Ronaldo made an immediate impact, scoring the first two goals in their 4-1 victory. Despite a prolific season in which he scored 35 goals for the club across competitions, Manchester United failed miserably in both domestic and European competitions. They could only finish sixth in the Premier League, costing them a spot in the Champions League this year. For the first time in a decade, Ronaldo went trophyless and was reportedly upset with the club’s lack of ambition.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s homecoming wasn’t particularly welcomed by all teammates equally, with reports of rifts with the squad surfacing regularly. It is a known fact that Ronaldo expects every player to give his best both in training and on the field, and the lack of a winning attitude reportedly affected his morale.

Despite ending the season on a high note by being named in the Premier League Team of the Year on his return, Ronaldo wanted out. The Red Devils under their new manager Erik Ten Hag did not show much interest in signing costly players during the summer transfer window, and Ronaldo subsequently communicated to the club his decision to leave.

The management at Old Trafford was initially reluctant at first to let go of Ronaldo but eventually had to agree to a free transfer. The lack of interest from any Champions League team forced the Portuguese captain to stay with the Red Devils, and Erik ten Hag has made it clear that Ronaldo will form a part of his plans for the club.



Tensions between Cristiano Ronaldo and the coaching staff, which were brewing all season, finally reached their peak during their game against Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago. Erik ten Hag opted to leave out Ronaldo during the game, and Ronaldo refused to come in as a substitute in the 89th minute, despite the manager telling him to do so. Ronaldo apparently left Old Trafford before the game even ended.

The management decided to fully back Erik ten Hag, agreeing with his decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the squad for the game against Chelsea. Ronaldo himself has issued a statement that stopped short of an apology, attributing the behaviour to the “heat of the moment”. The two have since spoken, with Ronaldo apparently apologising to the management and coaching staff. It is also now clear that Ronaldo will be leaving the club in January during the transfer window.

Ronaldo was a part of the starting XI in both of Manchester United’s games last week, scoring against Sheriff in the UEFA Europa League to confirm their berth in the playoffs. The issues seemed to have been settled for now, until both parties chart their separate paths.



Unlike last season, Manchester United under Erik ten Hag are putting on an impressive show across competitions this season. The 52-year-old is firm on overhauling the culture at Old Trafford, putting his foot down to prevent the intra-squad issues that often brought down the Red Devils in the past. With 23 points from 12 games so far, Manchester United are firmly in contention to enter the top-four slots before the World Cup break begins next week.

Ronaldo’s impact has been limited this season, and the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Antony Martial and Raphael Varane have now replaced Cristiano Ronaldo as the team’s core attack. Erik ten Hag is seen to be a disciplinarian manager, and the Portuguese captain seems to be the odd one out in the club. The Red Devils will also save a lot of money in weekly wages if they let go of Ronaldo – something that the overleveraged club needs to focus on before the transfer window.



A player of Cristiano Ronaldo’s calibre simply cannot opt for any club that comes his way and will be methodic in choosing his next home. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is at his best in European competitions, especially the Champions League. Sporting CP is the first club to allegedly consider a bid for the star, but plenty of time remains for other clubs to consider his entry into their teams.

Age is a major factor in Ronaldo’s future plans – despite his prolific skills, the 37-year-old is unlikely to play for many years in the future with the same consistency. The upcoming FIFA World Cup starting in two weeks will provide one final opportunity for Ronaldo to shine for his nation. If Ronaldo performs well in the World Cup, there is sure to be a renewed interest among European clubs for his services.




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