Doha, Qatar | Xinhua | So the Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United love affair came to a messy end on Tuesday night with the club and player both announcing that the 37-year-old’s contract had been terminated by ‘mutual agreement.’
This comes in the wake of an explosive TV interview, in which Ronaldo accused the club of betraying him and said he had “no respect” for coach Erik ten Hag, virtually assuring that he would leave one way or another.
The news that Ronaldo is now free to pursue his own path came just 24 hours after a press conference in which he insisted he “always” spoke at the right time and with teammates insisting that the ongoing conflict with United was not having any effect on their preparations, despite the continued questions about the striker in every press conference in Qatar.
Portugal kicks off its World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday and although the issue of Ronaldo’s dysfunctional relationship with Manchester United is no longer on the agenda, a new question has obviously come about: What now for Ronaldo?
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.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2022
Obviously, he has been linked to a lot of big clubs, but after trying to leave United during the summer, something that should not be forgotten when he now accuses the club of trying to betray him, it’s clear that if he plays in Europe, Ronaldo will want to play in the Champions League.
The problem is, which top club currently in the Champions League would actually want Ronaldo to play for them?
Although he remains a lethal finisher, the past two seasons have made it clear that he no longer possesses the explosive pace and mobility that made him, such as lethal player and as his 18-months back at Old Trafford have shown, he doesn’t exactly help dressing-room relations.
Add onto that his wages as he was rumored to be earning around 500,000 US dollars a week at Old Trafford and it’s easy to see why neither Chelsea nor Liverpool wants him and despite trying to sign him 18 months ago, Manchester City has since snapped up Julio Alvarez and a certain Erling Haaland, who is doing quite well.
Paris Saint Germain could afford to pay him, but why would you put an aging Ronaldo into a side that already contains Leo Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe: Playing all four would leave the team unbalanced and leaving one of them out would be a recipe for tension, conflict and controversy.
Napoli tried to sign him in the summer, but appear to have ruled themselves out, while in the rest of Italy, only AC Milan would be a possible option and they would have to sell to bring him in. The big question is: why would you sell to bring in a 37-year-old?
Some believe he could consider an emotional return to Sporting Lisbon to draw the curtain on his career, but once again, why would a top side, all be it one that is underperforming, throw a potential time-bomb into their dressing room?
Also moving to Portugal would mean taking a huge pay cut.
So that leaves just two options: a move to the MLS in the USA or playing in the Middle East, where fans would obviously flock to see him.
The MLS kicks off in February, which means there is plenty of time after the World Cup to sort things out and after he resolved ‘legal issues’ there with a payment, there should be nothing to stop him moving to the USA.
Big money and the center of attention: that sounds perfect for Ronaldo, but there is one question: If he was frustrated with some of his team-mates at Manchester United, how will he feel playing in a tournament where the level is much lower than the Premier League?