Manchester United announced Tuesday that it has parted ways with star Cristiano Ronaldo, adding in a statement that the departure is “by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.”
Ronaldo released a statement in which he agreed on the mutual nature of the early end to his contract with the club.
“I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change,” the 37-year-old forward 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.”
The termination of Ronaldo’s contract follows his recent interview with broadcaster Piers Morgan, which aired last week on TalkTV in the United Kingdom. In the interview, Ronaldo said he felt “betrayed” by the team and that he didn’t respect Manager Erik ten Hag, among other grievances.
Manchester United signed Ronaldo from Juventus in August 2021, opening the Portugal native’s second stint with the Premier League powerhouse following a previous spell from 2003 to 2009.
In the interview, Ronaldo said that when he returned to Old Trafford, he “thought everything will be different — the technology, the infrastructure, everything.”
“I was surprised, in a bad way, in that way,” he continued. “I saw everything was the same.”
Ronaldo also criticized previous Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick and some of his younger teammates, who he said weren’t listening to his advice and weren’t likely to have the kind of “longevity in their career” that he has enjoyed.
Hours before the interview was broadcast, Manchester United tore down a giant mural outside its stadium containing its now-former star’s image. After it aired, the club said it had “initiated appropriate steps” in response, without specifying what those steps were or would be.
Even before the interview, there were signs that Ronaldo’s second go-round with Manchester United might not be going to plan. Ten Hag criticized him in August for leaving a preseason game at halftime, and the manager said last month he would “deal with” Ronaldo after the five-time Ballon d’Or winner reportedly refused to enter a match against Tottenham as a substitute and headed to the changing room before the final whistle.
Ronaldo is competing for Portugal in Qatar, where it opens World Cup play against Ghana on Thursday. On Monday, before his parting of ways with Manchester United, he said the brouhaha over the interview should not affect the performance of his national team.
“The timing for me is my timing,” Ronaldo said while at Portugal’s training center near Doha. “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.”