Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United with immediate effect, the club has announced.
In a statement, the club said: “Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.
“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 added: “Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early.
“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.
“I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future.”
Ronaldo, who has been a regular on the bench this season – scoring three goals in 16 appearances – accused United of betraying him by trying to force him out of the club.
He also said he had “no respect” for boss Erik ten Hag, and alleged two senior figures at Old Trafford treated him with suspicion when he said his daughter Bella was sick with bronchitis, three months after her twin brother died.
Ronaldo leaving United was ‘inevitable’
Rob Harris, Sky’s sports correspondent, said the news Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United was “inevitable” after the interview.
He added: “Once Cristiano Ronaldo gave that interview last week saying he felt betrayed by Manchester United, as well as criticising the club, the standards of coaching, and the methodology and the fabric of the club, it looked like his time at Manchester United was coming to an end.
“This is the end of his second period at the club. He’d barely been there a year or so. United thought he was heading to Manchester City when they signed him a year ago. They managed to convince him. Sir Alex Ferguson, the former manager, managed to convince him not to go to their arch-rivals, but it has been a souring of relations.”
Harris adds that Ronaldo is now 37 years old and has not had “the same impact” as before.
“He had not been a significant part of this season. Only one goal was scored and he’d even left some games early – which led to him one point being banished from the team for a while.”
Ronaldo is now international duty with Portugal in Qatar, focusing on the start of their World Cup campaign on Thursday against Ghana.
Harris says Ronaldo will not be looking for a new club immediately.
Manchester United were understood to be “extremely disappointed” with Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan and initially said it would be “considering its response” to the interview.
After seeing the interview in full, the club’s lawyers were understood to be looking at how to bring his time at the club to an end.
Ronaldo claims he’s ‘bullet-proof’
The Portugal star responded to criticism of his comments after arriving in Qatar, and was defiant, telling a news conference: “I am bullet-proof, I wear an iron suit.
“From your side, it is easy to look at how we can choose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies. I don’t have to worry about what others think.”
He also insisted that the awkward handshake between him and attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes following the interview was actually a joke between the teammates.
Did Ronaldo ‘engineer’ his departure?
The Portuguese superstar earned a salary reported to be between £400,000 and £500,000 a week as part of a contract that ran until the end of the season, and he’s at an age where United couldn’t expect a big fee to buy him in the January transfer window.
Jamie Singer, a partner at sports law specialists Onside Law, told Sky News: “When you’re using language like ‘betrayal’ in respect of the club, it’s not going to be hard to demonstrate there’s been a breach of contract.”
But before Ronaldo had his contract ripped up, he speculated that: “You could have a situation where both parties would not be unhappy about a termination, and it appears that perhaps Ronaldo may be engineering that.”
In September, Ronaldo was charged with “improper and/or violent” conduct after a video emerged appearing to show him knocking a fan’s mobile phone to the ground.
In October, he was punished by his manager for refusing to play against Tottenham.
After that incident, Ronaldo later admitted on Instagram that “sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us”.