Cristiano Ronaldo will start their World Cup opener for Portugal two days after his contract with Manchester United was terminated.
Ronaldo has yet to speak publicly since becoming a free agent for the first time in his career after deciding to skip captain’s media duties on Wednesday.
However, head coach Fernando Santos is undeterred by the off-field drama surrounding the 37-year-old and has used him from the start against Ghana this afternoon.
“It’s something that hasn’t even been talked about,” head coach Santos said of Ronaldo on Wednesday as he grew increasingly frustrated with questions centered on his captain. ‘This conversation [about his exit] never showed up, not even from him.’
On Tuesday, Sportsmail revealed, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said goodbye to £16m after leaving United with immediate effect.
However, Ronaldo’s departure was mutually agreed sports mail can reveal that United have not paid any compensation for the remaining seven months of his £500,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s departure was announced on Tuesday afternoon after United confirmed the news in a 67-word statement.
Cristiano Ronaldo remains focused on Portugal’s World Cup campaign after Man United exit
“Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Manchester United by mutual agreement with immediate effect,” the statement began.
“The club thank him for his immense contribution in two terms at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 games, and wish him and his family all the best for the future.
“Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the progress of the team under Erik ten Hag and working together to succeed on the pitch.”
Ronaldo released his own statement after the news, writing: “Following discussions with Manchester United, we have mutually agreed to end our contract early.
“I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never change. For me, however, it seems the right time to seek a new challenge.
‘I wish the team every success for the rest of the season and for the future.’
The Portugal captain used Instagram to message fans ahead of their World Cup campaign which begins on Thursday against Ghana
Ronaldo’s position at United was untenable once his explosive revealing interview with Piers Morgan aired on TalkTV.
In it, the Portuguese star addressed the lack of development at United since he first left in 2009, accusing the club of cheating on him, saying the owners don’t care about the club and the fact that he’s manager Erik ten Hag not respect .
Ronaldo, who wants to play at Champions League level for as long as possible, goes into the first group game of the World Cup as a free agent in a bid to impress.
Chelsea have been tipped as a potential target as Blues owner Todd Boehly has long been an admirer of the 37-year-old and sought to land him at Stamford Bridge this summer amid his Manchester United transfer saga.
But a report from The Sun has claimed that Chelsea are now unlikely to play a role in the forward’s future after the idea has ‘gone cold’.
Man Utd and Ronaldo agreed to end his contract and he will now be a free agent
First and foremost, Ronaldo will be interested in Portugal suffering an upset in the opening game like Lionel Messi’s Argentina against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
He is yet to win the World Cup as a player and this is his fifth with the national team and one that will likely be his last.
Since making his debut at Germany 2006, Ronaldo has netted seven times in 17 World Cup appearances for his country.
And coach Santos is desperate to see the circus around his star player subside and get back to what’s happening on the pitch.
He said: “We always hear a lot of noise about things that are going on and Cristiano is Cristiano, it’s happening.
“I don’t think what he did and what he decided will have any impact on the Portuguese team.”
The Portugal captain trains with his team-mates ahead of their opener against Ghana
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11465711/Cristiano-Ronaldo-STARTS-Portugals-opening-World-Cup-match-against-Ghana.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Cristiano Ronaldo STARTS Portugal’s World Cup opening game against Ghana