Manchester United released Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, bringing an end to the 37-year-old’s tumultuous second spell with the club.
The move comes after Ronaldo criticized the Glazer family, United manager Erik ten Hag, and his now-former teammates in a scathing interview with British broadcaster Piers Morgan last week.
United waited until they could review the 90-minute interview in its entirety before launching legal proceedings last Friday and eventually voiding Ronaldo’s contract.
“Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement with immediate effect,” the club said in a statement.
Ronaldo’s deal would have expired in June 2023. Now a free agent, he can sign with any club at any point.
He was earning an estimated £500,000 per week at United.
Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Roma, and Napoli have all been linked with Ronaldo in recent months.
“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,” Ronaldo said in a statement obtained by the BBC’s Simon Stone. “I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future.”
The Portuguese international, who’s playing in his fifth World Cup, told Morgan he felt “betrayed” by United’s attempts to offload him in the summer. Ronaldo also said the club didn’t believe him when his newborn daughter was hospitalized in August, that he has no respect for Ten Hag, and that United have failed to upgrade their facilities since he made his first debut for the club in 2003.
The Red Devils re-signed Ronaldo from Juventus in August 2021. He went on to lead the team in scoring, racking up 24 goals in 39 total appearances.
But things seemed to change when United fired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager last November. Ronaldo criticized the club’s decision to hire Ralf Rangnick, who served in an interim capacity for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign, before butting heads with Ten Hag.
Ten Hag repeatedly told reporters Ronaldo was a part of his plans for the 2022-23 season. But the Dutchman started him just four times in the Premier League and dropped him from the squad altogether when Ronaldo refused to come on as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.