Manchester United have appointed lawyers to explore potential action against Cristiano Ronaldo for alleged breach of contract after claims made by the forward in a recent interview as the club seek to engineer his departure as quickly as possible.
It means Ronaldo will almost certainly never play for United again and it is understood the 37-year-old has been instructed not to return to the club’s Carrington training base after his participation with Portugal in the World Cup in Qatar.
With Ronaldo wanting to leave and United intent on being rid of him, the question is how his exit will unfold. United’s stance is that he should not receive a payoff and they would like the process completed as quickly as possible. Ronaldo’s position is unclear, so the club are keeping all options on the table.
United’s strategy may be to hope that the threat of legal action will cause Ronaldo to offer to annul his contract. When speaking to Piers Morgan on Talk TV, Ronaldo made a series of allegations. These included that he is being forced out by the club, that senior executives lacked empathy after his newborn son died in April, that the owners, the Glazer family, do not care about the club, and that the manager, Erik ten Hag, does not respect him.
‘I felt betrayed’: Cristiano Ronaldo claims he is being pushed out of Manchester United – video
On Friday a club statement said: “Manchester United has this morning initiated appropriate steps in response to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent media interview. We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion.”
Ronaldo’s contract is worth about £500,000 a week and expires in June. United had no prior knowledge of the interview given by Ronaldo, who wanted to leave in the summer. He is due to arrive in Doha on Friday at 11pm local time with the Portugal squad before the team’s first training session on Saturday afternoon.
Ronaldo is in his second spell at United after a supremely successful six years that ended in 2009 with his having won three Premier Leagues, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or. His individual contribution made him a hero for United fans and ranked him among the club’s greatest players.
Ronaldo’s return in summer 2021 was greeted ecstatically by supporters and hailed as a coup by Ten Hag’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjær. But in going public with his claims against United Ronaldo has seriously damaged this standing and status.
This followed his walking out before the end of the July friendly with Rayo Vallecano and October’s 2-0 league win over Tottenham. Despite this, Ten Hag made Ronaldo captain for the league game at Aston Villa on 6 November, which United lost 3-1. It seems this will be his final appearance for the club.