Five contenders to replace Antonio Conte at SpursMar 27 | 3 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo's explosive words about Erik ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick and Wayne Rooney - and what the Manchester United forward might do next
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner sat down with Piers Morgan for an exclusive interview in which he opened up about what he feels are the club's failures both before and since his return to Old Trafford in the summer of 2021.
Cristiano Ronaldo has told Piers Morgan that he feels "betrayed" by Manchester United in an astonishing exclusive interview.
The 37-year-old unsuccessfully tried to leave the Red Devils over the summer after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League.
The forward has often started games on the bench under Erik ten Hag, something he has not taken kindly to, leaving Old Trafford before full-time against both Rayo Vallecano and Tottenham having refused to come on against Antonio Conte's men, according to his Dutch boss.
Despite these displays of dissent, the extent of his dismay at United has still come as a bit of a shock, with Ten Hag, United's infrastructure, former boss Ralf Rangnick and ex-team-mate Wayne Rooney all in his line of fire.
The interview will be broadcast in full over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, but here are the highlights so far and what the future may hold for the Portuguese superstar.
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On Erik ten Hag
"I don't have respect for him because he doesn't show respect for me. If you don't have respect for me, I'm never going to have respect for you."
In response to Morgan's question about whether he felt people at the club were trying to force him out, Ronaldo replied: "Yes. Not only the coach, but another two or three guys [that] are around the club [at senior executive level]. I feel that some people don't want me here, not only this year, but last year too."
On Ralf Rangnick
"I don’t know what’s going on, but since Sir Alex Ferguson left, I did not see evolution in the club. The progress was zero.
"For example, [after] the club sacked Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer], they bring [in] sporting director Ralf Rangnick, which is something that 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.
"If you're not even a coach, how are you going to be the boss of Manchester United? I'd never even heard of him."
On United's infrastructure
"Nothing [has] changed [since my first spell at the club]. Not the pool, the jacuzzi, even the gym.
"I thought I would see different things, different technology, infrastructure, but unfortunately, we see many things that I’m used to seeing when I was 20, 21. [It] surprised me a lot.
"I think the fans should know the truth. I want the best for the club. This is why I came to Manchester United, but you have some things inside [the club] that don't help [us] reach the top level as [Manchester] City, Liverpool and even now Arsenal... a club with this dimension should be top of the tree in my opinion and are not unfortunately."
On whether he would accept being sold as long as United improved, Ronaldo replied: "If they start with [getting rid of] me, for me, it's not a problem.
"I love Manchester United, I love the fans. They're always on my side, but if [the club] want to do it different... they have to change many, many things."
On Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney, now DC United manager, has previously branded Ronaldo's acts of petulance this season "unacceptable" and says his former team-mate has become a "distraction" at Old Trafford.
In response, Ronaldo hit back: "I don't know why he criticises me so badly... probably because he finished his career and I'm still playing at [a] high level.
"I'm not going to say that I'm better-looking than him, which is true..."
On Sir Alex Ferguson
"He knows better than anybody that the club is not on the path they deserve to be.
"He knows, everyone knows. The people who don't see that... it's because they don't want to see. They are blind."
On the topic of almost joining Manchester City, Ronaldo said: "I followed my heart. [Sir Alex] said to me: 'It's impossible for you to [go] to Manchester City.' I said: 'OK Boss.'"
Where could Ronaldo's future lie?
His two-year deal expires in the summer, and it now looks all but certain that he will leave in January. What are his options?
Sporting 3/1 - The romantic option given that it was his first professional club, but unlikely to happen given his wage demands.
Chelsea 4/1 - Hard to see United selling to a rival club despite his lack of playing time, so this seems out of the question.
Any MLS club 6/1 - American clubs have tempted the likes of David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo, Gonzalo Higuain and Gareth Bale in their 30s, and former United icon Beckham's Inter Miami side, coached by Phil Neville, would be one of several clubs able to afford Ronaldo. Whether the 37-year-old is keen on the drop down in quality remains to be seen however.
Paris Saint-Germain 12/1 - Although they have the money and the ambition to tempt Ronaldo, their all-star front three of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi will be hard to dislodge and Ronaldo doesn't seem like he would be content on warming the bench. Although it would be something to see him line up alongside long-time rival Messi...
Napoli 12/1 - An intriguing proposition given the irresistible football they are playing both in Serie A and in the Champions League, but Luciano Spalletti seems to be building a young side notably lacking in big names, so seemingly an unsuitable fit for Ronaldo.
Roma 16/1 - A reunion with old Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho would be a scriptwriter's dream, but affordability is a key consideration and like Napoli, Roma are building an attack around younger names.
Manchester City 16/1 - Impossible to see where he'd fit in at City and the circus surrounding him at United will have surely put off their rivals who, unlike 12 months ago, now have a recognised striker in Erling Haaland.
Atletico Madrid 25/1 - Atletico fans have been vocal about their opposition to signing Ronaldo. In any case, he has faced them too often in important fixtures with Real Madrid for the move to seem likely.
Newcastle 25/1 - Despite their vast riches, Newcastle appear reluctant to break the bank and have opted for players who can add value without being massive stars.
Arsenal 25/1 - Mikel Arteta is very much building a young team for the future, so again, it's hard to see this being a natural fit. Plus, Arsenal's wage structure wouldn't accommodate Ronaldo.
Real Madrid 50/1 - Real tend to only hand out one-year contract extensions to players over 30, something that applies even to mainstay Luka Modric, the oldest player in the squad but still seven months younger than Ronaldo.
The instability of this contract position, coupled with the age profile of the squad, would appear to rule out the prospect of a Bernabeu return for Ronaldo, with club president Florentino Perez pouring scorn on the idea of signing him in the summer.
(All odds correct at the time of writing)