Portugal icon and one of the greatest soccer players of this generation, Cristiano Ronaldo, is leaving Manchester United as he prepares to take the field for his national side at the 2022 World Cup.
His deal with the English Premier League side was mutually terminated on Tuesday, the team announced.
“The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future,” the statement read. “Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team’s progress under Erik ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch.”
Ronaldo’s second stint with United (he ascended to stardom with them from 2003-2009) lasted less than two seasons after making the move from Italian juggernauts Juventus.
“I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change,” Ronaldo said (h/t Simon Stone). “However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge.”
He appeared in just 16 matches across all competitions for the English club after leading them with 24 goals last season.
The writing was on the wall for the 37-year-old’s exit after an explosive interview with Piers Morgan where he stated his dissatisfaction with the direction of Manchester United under manager Erik ten Hag
“I don’t know what’s going on. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left I have seen not evolution in the club. The progress was zero. For example, an interesting point is how a club like Manchester United sacked Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer), they bring in a sporting director Ralf Rangnick which is something nobody understands. This guy is not even a coach! A big club like Manchester United bringing in a sporting director surprised not only me but all the world.
Nothing changes. Not only the jacuzzi, the pool, even the gym. Even some points of technology, the kitchen, the chefs – who I appreciate, lovely people! They stop in time which surprised me a lot.
I thought I would see different things, technology, infrastructure. Unfortunately, we see many things I’m used to seeing when I’m 21, 22, 23. It surprised me a lot.”
He went on to say that he had no respect for ten Hag as United sit in fifth place in the Premier League and are currently competing in the Europa League.
Ronaldo and his Portugal side will make their World Cup debut on Thursday against Ghana where it remains to be seen if this will be a distraction — especially with his former Manchester United teammate Bruno Fernandes as a fixture within A Selecao as well.
Details of his next team are unknown as of now, though rumors initially pointed to a return to Real Madrid. What is clear is that he’ll be looking to stay in Europe to compete in the Champions League.