Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes the controversial nature of Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from Old Trafford will not detract from his legacy at the club.
United issued a statement announcing they had reached a mutual agreement with the player to terminate his contract following the 37-year-old’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised manager Erik ten Hag and executives at the club.
And although Ferdinand believes Ronaldo got the result he wanted from the interview, he says the Portuguese superstar still deserves to be remembered fondly by fans.
“I don’t think this affects or detracts from Cristiano Ronaldo’s legacy at the football club – what he’s achieved, his legendary status, I believe doesn’t change,” Ferdinand told his Youtube channel.
“The measure of what he was when he was in the red shirt, playing football, and the amount of successful moments and trophies that he brought to the club when he was here, becoming the best player in the world when he was at Manchester United – these things you cannot erase from history.”
But Ferdinand stressed that he believed Ronaldo knew exactly what he was doing when he agreed to the interview – and that the result is a good one for both the player and United boss Ten Hag.
“I think both parties are delighted with it,” added Ferdinand. “I think the action Cristiano Ronaldo took over the last couple of weeks with the the interview meant that this was the outcome he wanted and was aiming for.
“I think he got what he wanted, but I think Erik Ten Hag has got what he wanted. The way things have gone at the club this season, I believe Erik Ten Hag deep down felt the team were better off without Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Another ex-team-mate Wayne Rooney said Ronaldo’s “attack” on the club left United with no option.
“It’s sad to see it end this way but I think once everyone’s seen the interview and how he attacked the club I think there was no option so I’m not surprised, no,” Rooney told Indian broadcaster Viacom18 Sports’ VISA Match Centre Live.
“It’s a shame because he’s been a fantastic servant for Manchester United and I wish him all the best which whichever club he goes to next.
“I’m sure there’ll be teams looking to sign him. Certainly, if he has a good (World Cup) tournament, there’ll be a lot of teams looking to try and sign him.”
Former England captain Alan Shearer suggested Ronaldo had “got his wish” and will await his next destination with interest.
“He’s got his wish – it’s what he did the interview for,” Shearer told the BBC. “It was inevitable it was going to happen after that. It will be interesting to see if a Champions League (team) comes in for him.”
Burnley boss Vincent Kompany added on the BBC’s World Cup coverage: “I think in the end everybody loses except for perhaps the Manchester United manager – it is a problem that’s resolved and they will move on from this.”