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Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo has left Manchester United, after strong disagreements with coach Eric ten Hag.
The decision came after a controversial TV interview in which the 37-year-old criticized the club and said it had “no respect” for coach Erik ten Hag.
Both parties stated that Ronaldo’s exit was “by mutual consent of both sides”.
A Manchester United statement read: “The club thanks him for his tremendous contribution during his two seasons at Old Trafford.”
The club wished “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 achieve success on the pitch.”
United finished fifth in the Premier League in Ten Hag’s first season as manager and are now in the season break which coincides with the World Cup in Qatar.
Ronaldo plays with his country, Portugal, in the World Cup in Qatar, and is scheduled to lead them in their opening match in Group H against Ghana next Thursday.
Ronaldo spoke to the media in Qatar on Monday, saying he would speak whenever he wanted and that his dispute with United would not “shake” the Portugal team into the tournament.
Ronaldo scored 145 goals in 346 games for United. And he had left Juventus, Italy, to join United again, in August of 2021, 11 years after he left United for the first time to join Real Madrid.
There was just over seven months left until Ronaldo’s £500,000-a-week contract with United expired. His departure from the club makes him free to sign with another club when the January transfer window begins.
According to a statement issued by Ronaldo, his departure came “following talks with Manchester United, we have mutually agreed to terminate our contract at an early date.”
“I love Manchester United and I love the fans, and that will never change. However, it seems like the right time for me to look for a new challenge.”
“I wish the team all the best for the rest of the season and for the future.”
Controversial TV interview
Ronaldo has not played for United due to an unspecified illness, it was announced, since captaining the team in their 3-1 defeat by Aston Villa on November 6.
Ronaldo was ruled out of playing in the Premier League match against Chelsea last month by Ten Hag, after refusing to come on as a substitute against Tottenham three days earlier.
In an interview with a British television channel last week, Ronaldo said he did not regret refusing to come on as a substitute in the last minutes of the match with Tottenham, because he felt that Ten Hag had “provoked” him.
He said he felt “betrayed by the club” and added, along with his view on Ten Hag, that he felt forced out of the club.
Ronaldo also said he had not seen “any development” at the club since former coach Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
United responded last Friday with a statement, saying they had “taken appropriate steps” in response.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand told BBC Sport: “Cristiano obviously did that interview with the mentality that he wasn’t happy and wanted out of the club. He made that very clear.”
“I think Erik ten Hag got what he wanted in this situation as well. Both parties are happy and we can move on.”
“Cristiano’s next stage we don’t know. It depends on his motives. Playing in the Champions League? The money? Keep playing somewhere in a nice climate?”
“We’ll know in time, I’m sure.”
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