Cristiano Ronaldo's Future With Manchester United Is Now Defined

Cristiano Ronaldo set the soccer world ablaze when he slammed Manchester United and the club's manager during an interview with Piers Morgan. The Portuguese National Team captain went scorched earth bashing Man U's manager Erik ten Hag. "I don't have respect for him [ten Hag] because he doesn't show respect for me," he told Morgan in clips released on November 13, before the full interview aired, per ESPN. The comments came on the heels of Ronaldo being suspended by the soccer club for leaving the pitch early after not being subbed into the game. While speaking to Morgan, the striker said he felt the club was eager to cut ties. "I felt betrayed," Ronaldo said. "I feel that some people didn't want me here, not only this year but last season too."

The following day, after the interview went viral, Manchester put their support behind ten Hag, and sources said the team would allow the manager to deal with Ronaldo personally, according to ESPN. A few days later, it was reported that the club was looking into the idea of taking legal action to void Ronaldo's contract, per the Daily Mail.

Just before participating in the World Cup, Ronaldo addressed the fallout from his interview and insisted it would not be a distraction. "They won't be influenced by what people say or write," he said of his national teammates (via ABC News). Not long after, though, Ronaldo's fate with Manchester United was firmly decided.

Cristiano Ronaldo officially exits Manchester United

On November 22, just over a week after his viral interview, Manchester United announced that Cristiano Ronaldo was leaving the team "with immediate effect," per The Guardian. "The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford," Manchester added in a short statement. Ronaldo released a statement of his own that mentioned how the departure was mutual. "I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change. However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge," he wrote. As earlier reports indicated, the team ended the contract without paying off the hefty £16 million still owed to the forward through June.

Although leaving a large amount of money on the table didn't seem ideal, Piers Morgan believed the decision to openly bash Ronaldo's now-former team was calculated. "He knew what he wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it. He knew what the reaction would be," the television host told the BBC on November 17. "He gave this a lot of thought," Morgan added. A former teammate of the Portuguese player, Rio Ferdinand, echoed those sentiments. He believed both the team and Ronaldo wanted to end the relationship."This is all manufactured for that reason," Ferdinand stated during his "Vibe with Five" podcast, via CNN.

In October, reports speculated that Ronaldo was orchestrating an exit from Manchester as early as January, per Fan Nation. Now, it appears the split happened even faster than originally projected.