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Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Man Utd with immediate effect

Manchester United have confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo has left the club for the second time after his contract was terminated with immediate effect by ‘mutual agreement’.

It comes just days after an incendiary interview Ronaldo gave to Piers Morgan and TalkTV, during which he heavily criticised the club.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect,” a club statement on Tuesday afternoon read.

“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.

“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 first joined United at the age of just 18 after earning a reputation as one of Europe’s brightest young talents at Sporting CP.

United were already keeping a firm eye on the youngster prior to a now iconic pre-season friendly against Sporting in Lisbon in 2003, but that trip and Ronaldo’s performance in the game accelerated their approach and ensured they didn’t return to Manchester without a deal in place.

Ronaldo was initially inconsistent at Old Trafford but by 2005 was showing signs that he would soon develop into a world class player. That was very much the case during a breakout 2006/07 season when he exploded into life and turned potential into game-changing impact.

Ronaldo finished that season with 23 goals in all competitions and a Premier League title under his belt. The following year he upped that to 42 goals, while United retained the Premier League and won the Champions League. In his final season before an £80m world record transfer to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, the club made it three in a row in the Premier League.

At Real Madrid, the once skinny kid from Madeira went way beyond the status of world class in his own era and established himself as one of the greatest players of all time, scoring an astonishing 450 goals in nine years and winning four more Champions League titles with Los Blancos.

He moved to Juventus for a new challenge in 2018, adding two more domestic league titles in a third different country to his bulging trophy cabinet, before deciding on a ‘homecoming’ to United in 2021.

Ronaldo, at 36 going on 37, scored 24 goals across all competitions in a struggling United side during the 2021/22 campaign. But it became increasingly clear by the summer of 2022 that cracks were beginning to appear. He asked to leave but a lack of suitors saw him forced to stay and new manager Erik ten Hag had fresh ideas that seemingly didn’t involve the veteran.

The fractures grew when Ronaldo refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham and stormed off down the Old Trafford while the game was still being played. In his TalkTV interview that soon followed, Ronaldo was also critical of the club’s lack of progress since he left in 2009, while he inexplicably spoke of a lack of respect for Ten Hag.

Even at 37, soon to turn 38, his career isn’t expected to be over, having previously spoken of his desire to continue playing beyond his 40th birthday. But at this stage it is unclear where the five-time Ballon d’Or will set up camp next.

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