Premier League legends Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have slammed disgruntled star Cristiano Ronaldo, amid the uncertainty and speculation about his future at Manchester United.
Ronaldo returned to United’s match day squad for a game against La Liga side Rayo Vallecano earlier this week, after missing the clubs pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia.
But after being subbed off at halftime by manager Erik ten Hag, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner reportedly walked out of Old Trafford with 10 minutes to run on the game clock.
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The infamous walkout was described as “unacceptable” by ten Hag, and only fueled rumors that Ronaldo is desperate for a transfer away from the Red Devils.
Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville believes the club needs to sell the Portuguese international, as he suggested how Ronaldo’s actions may be hurting the club.
“Ronaldo’s achievements in football go beyond, to be fair, anyone could ever wish for and imagine. He’ll go down in the top players of all-time and he always will be, ”Neville said on The Overlap.
“What happens this summer at Manchester United will be forgotten about in 20 years.
“The star player in the dressing room is playing up. It happened at times over the last few years where you had Pogba’s agent, not necessarily (Paul) Pogba all the time but his agent always playing up with the club.
“You can’t have your star player in a club running the shop. You cannot have it. When Sir Alex Ferguson potentially in the past moved players on, it was because that player was needed to be moved on.
“I know Manchester United fans want Ronaldo to stay, but if Ronaldo wants to leave, Manchester United in my mind should facilitate that.”
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Ronaldo, who has won the Champions League five times, was reportedly set to be benched for United’s Premier League season opener against Brighton after missing most of the pre-season.
But a thigh injury to French attacker Anthony Martial could see the star named as a surprise starter for Sunday night’s match (AEST).
Asked if Ronaldo will start, coach Erik Ten Hag said: “We will see on Sunday.”
Liverpool great Carragher always expected to drama to follow Ronaldo after he signed his contract, as the 37-year-old never would’ve wanted to “play second fiddle” to a teammate.
“I always felt this situation would come. Even if Ronaldo did great for a year, he signed a two-year deal plus another year which I couldn’t believe. He’s never going to play second fiddle to anyone,” Carragher said.
“As players, at a certain stage in your career we all know that you’re not the same player and his (career) has gone on longer because he’s such a great professional.
“He’s not the same player, he’s still a great goal scorer but he’s not the same player. No other club in Europe at this moment wants him.
“I think if you ask (Erik) ten Hag, I don’t think he wants him and I’m not quite sure the dressing room at Manchester United would want Cristiano Ronaldo right now.”
While it’s been said that Ronaldo missed the pre-season tour due to personal reasons, the rumor mill was in full swing as fans and pundits alike speculated about his future.
It’s believed that he’d handed in a transfer request after United failed to qualify for the Champions League last season – finishing sixth, 35-points behind rivals and champions Manchester City.
While in Australia, new manager ten Hag was bombarded with a number of questions about his key player.
Ten Hag insisted that Ronaldo wasn’t for sale, but Ronaldo continued to dominate headlines over rumors of a potential transfer to Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and even Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain.
“Ten Hag literally has had every single press conference that he does just obliterated by the Ronaldo issue,” Neville added.
“If a player becomes the dominating factor and a distraction in a press conference for a manager, there’s only one thing that needs to happen. We all know it.
“You might have to go back to go forwards and this season Manchester United, they may have to go back without Ronaldo.”