Manchester United legend Gary Neville hopes Cristiano Ronaldo can find a Premier League club to join but has a warning for potential bidders.
The Red Devils agreed to the mutual termination of his contract after Ronaldo gave a controversial interview to Piers Morgan, in which he was critical of the club, manager Erik ten Hag, former players, senior executives and more.
That has given Ronaldo the chance to move on a free transfer to a club of his choice but the offers aren’t flowing in with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr believed to be the only club to have submitted a serious offer.
Ronaldo recently denied that he was close to moving to the Middle East, where he is likely to earn huge amounts if he sacrifices the standard of league he plays in,
The 37-year-old caused a stir at the World Cup when he reacted angrily towards Portugal boss Fernando Santos after being substituted against South Korea.
He started on the bench for their final two matches of the World Cup and there were even rumours that Ronaldo ‘threatened to leave the national team’, which both the former Man Utd striker and the Portuguese FA deny.
When asked if Ronaldo being left out of the Portugal side would have a bearing on his future at club level, Neville replied on Sky Sports: “I think it must have a bearing on both the club that are going to sign him but also the club that he’s going to choose, because I think there’s no doubt Cristiano needs, wants and has to play.
“Or else he’s not going to be happy and he’s not going to accept it. That means that the club that take him know that that’s going to be the case.
“Unless there’s a change of heart, a change of approach, and the club and the player decide that they are going to have an honest conversation and say ‘look, come and play for us but you’re not going to play, you’re going to be sat on the bench every other week. You’re going to play some games and not the others and you are going to compete for your place.’
“But we’ve seen that in the last two teams that he’s played in with United and Portugal that it hasn’t gone down particularly well for either party.
“So I think that the pressure of having him on the bench, he’s so big with the fans, he’s so big with the media, he’s one of the greatest players that has ever played, seeing him on the bench is almost like a magnet for trouble for the club that he’s playing for.
“The focus becomes the player that’s not on the pitch rather than the players who are playing. At that point then you need to make sure that it doesn’t become a distraction.
“So I think that’s where it got to at United and that’s where it has got to, maybe, with Portugal at the end. So I think it has to be a very careful decision that has to be made by both the club and Cristiano.
“I hope he finds happiness in a club that will get him into the team, get him scoring his goals that we know he’ll score, he’ll score 20 goals in 30 matches wherever he plays. Maybe 20 goals in 20 matches knowing him.
“Does he see the end of his career playing out in lesser leagues? Or does he see his career playing out in one of the major leagues and continuing at that level?
“I hope it’s the former and he finds a club in the major leagues, or even the Premier League, I hope he stays in the Premier League, at a club that can have him up front and we can watch him every week. That’s what we want to see.”
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