(Football news) A tearful Cristiano Ronaldo was the first to leave the field after Portugal’s defeat to giant-killers Morocco at the Al Thumama Stadium. For most fans who have seen the player perform at the highest level in the last 20 years, it was heartbreaking to see one of football’s all time greats come to the realisation that he will never, in all probability win a World Cup in his illustrious career. The 37 year old is not the player he once was and with his departure from Manchester United, his future at both the club and international level is now uncertain.
Cristiano Ronaldo in an Instagram post
“To win a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career. Unfortunately, yesterday [Saturday] the dream ended. I just want everyone to know that a lot was said, a lot was written, a lot was speculated, but my dedication to Portugal didn’t change for an instant. I was always one more player fighting for everyone’s goal and I would never turn my back on my team-mates and my country. For now, there’s not much more to say. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted… Now, we have to let time be a good adviser and allow everyone to draw their own conclusions.”
The five-time Ballon d’Or started each of Portugal’s three Group Stage games but was dropped to the bench in the team’s biggest win of the World Cup against Switzerland. If sitting on the bench wasn’t bad enough, seeing his biggest rival Lionel Messi reach the semi-finals while his own team crashed out of the tournament is what will undoubtedly be a disaster in his own eyes. Ronaldo came to Qatar as a Manchester United player, he will leave the country without a team and his attention will now turn towards his future, whether it’s in Europe or Saudi Arabia.
Ronaldo scored just 1 goal for Manchester United in the 2022 season and didn’t manage to score from open play for Portugal in the World Cup. While Saudi Arabia seems like an attractive prospect financially, the soon to be 38 year old still believes he should be competing in the Champions League for an elite European club. Saudi’s Pro League is currently ranked 20th in the world below the Premier League and even the Scottish Championship by a long distance and having featured in the top three leagues throughout his career, it’s understandable why the player might not want to step so far down.
Chelsea were one of the clubs interested in Ronaldo in the summer but Thomas Tuchel did not want the player, resulting in a potential deal falling through. Napoli were also linked to him but are now on top of the Serie A table with an eight point lead over AC Milan and would not want to disrupt a winning formula by signing Ronaldo, who will want to feature in the first team every week.
Sporting Lisbon is another potential destination and while it’ll be a romantic reunion between the two, it’s clear that the Portuguese club cannot afford him. Club manager Ruben Amorim said, “Everybody in Sporting dreams of the return for Cristiano but we don’t have the money to pay his wages.”
In the interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo said “what the press keep saying, the garbage that nobody wants me, which is completely wrong.” It’s clear that now is the time where we’re about to find out if he’s right.
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