- Portuguese has seen contract terminated
- Had wanted to leave over the summer
- All-time great is now a free agent
WHAT HAPPENED? The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has seen a lucrative contract at Old Trafford ripped up, allowing him to become a free agent, with an explosive interview with Piers Morgan, in which he took aim at prominent figures from the Red Devils’ past and present, making his position with Premier League heavyweights untenable. Ronaldo had already made one push for the exits over the summer, only to see the transfer deadline pass with no deal done, and Stam believes the Portuguese knew exactly what he was doing from that point after seeing game time limited under Erik ten Hag.
WHAT THEY SAID: Former United defender Stam, speaking in association with Football Betting, has told GOAL of the long-running Ronaldo saga: “He did it on purpose. There was a strategy behind it in terms of ‘how are we going to organise this so that I can leave the club?’ From the beginning to now, you could see where it was going. Not playing, not being in the team, being subbed, not being used, walking away and then saying, from United’s point of view as well, we spoke about it and the discussion about who is right in all these situations. In everything that has been going on, it’s been arranged in how it needs to be to leave the club. The next step was to give an interview and say certain things that is going to blow up and eventually you are going to be leaving. It’s not a good situation. I always questioned the way of working with him and how it started when he joined the club, how the conversations went with Ronaldo, then the decision making about not using him. And from Ronaldo as well, when he said ‘I want to leave and go somewhere else’, maybe they could have come to an agreement and parted ways at the beginning of the season. Then it kept dragging on and now with this interview, he knew by saying certain things and making comments about the manager and the club and the owners, they needed to let him go.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Pressed further on whether Ronaldo had started to believe that he was bigger than the club, Stam – who formed part of United’s legendary 1999 treble-winning squad – added: “The club is the most important thing. He knows that, his agent knows that, everybody knows that. The thing is that everybody also knows that Ronaldo is a very good player and he still is a big player, a big name in the world of football, a big influence in everything he does with attention on him. He feels that he is still very important, was very important or could be very important for the club – which in a way I agree with – but the manager is making different decisions. How those things have been dealt with, I don’t think it’s been good. Maybe from the club, they could have done it a bit differently, but also from Ronaldo and his point of view, he should have known better and how to handle certain situations. If you are that experienced, have played so many games and won so many trophies – as an individual as well – both parties could have solved the situation better.”
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WHAT NEXT? Ronaldo is currently on 2022 World Cup duty with his country, with Portugal set to be back in action against South Korea on Friday after already booking their place in the last 16, and a decision on his future – amid talk of interest from England, the USA and Saudi Arabia – is not expected to be made until another bid for global glory in Qatar has come to a close, although Al-Nassr are believed to have tabled a huge offer.