(CNN) — “Either you die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain,” says Harvey Dent in Batman’s “The Dark Knight,” foreshadowing his descent from hero to villain.
Could the same be said of Cristiano Ronaldo?
It’s no secret that the Portuguese superstar hasn’t enjoyed a fairytale reunion with Manchester United since returning to Old Trafford last year.
In the latest twist in the Ronaldo-United saga, excerpts from an explosive interview with Piers Morgan appeared on Talk TV this week in which Ronaldo said he was “betrayed” by the club.
The full interview was scheduled to take place over two nights Wednesday and Thursday.
Specifically, Ronaldo is unhappy with new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag who suspended the striker after he left Manchester United’s game against Tottenham Hotspur last month before the game was completed.
“I don’t respect him because he doesn’t show me respect,” Ronaldo said. “If you don’t respect me, I will never have respect for you.”
The end of an unhappy marriage
Ronaldo enjoyed unprecedented success at Manchester United after joining the club in the summer of 2003. Over the next six years, he went from shrewd winger to the best player in the world, collecting the first of his five Ballon d’s ‘Gold in 2008.
During that time he won three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups and the Champions League, a tournament that Ronaldo has since become synonymous with.
But since his return to England, he no longer has the same success. Last season was Ronaldo’s first in 17 years without winning a trophy, dating back to his first stint at the club.
Since trying to force an exit from United over the summer, Ronaldo has played only sparingly, making just 16 appearances for the Red Devils.
That number is unlikely to increase after the Talk TV interview, which could spell the end of his time in Manchester.
Ronaldo now says he feels like Ten Hag was forcing him out of the club, but what he failed to mention is that he was the one who pushed to leave in the summer after United didn’t failed to qualify for the Champions League.
In the interview, he also opened up about his personal tragedy. Earlier this year, he and his partner, Georgina Rodríguez, announced that their baby had passed away.
Ronaldo also said his young daughter ended up in hospital this year, which he cited as the reason he missed most pre-season training with United.
But after criticizing his manager, former teammates, the club and the owners, many were appalled by Ronaldo’s jabs at his employer.
“I’m totally baffled and confused as to why he’s done this interview,” Jermaine Jenas, a former England international turned pundit, told the BBC’s Match Day 2.
“We haven’t seen anything but smugness all year walking through the tunnel. Today he was supposedly sick. He now does interviews with Piers Morgan.
“He’s a frustrated player. Whether you feel cheated or not, today just isn’t for me. He has to (finish his time at United).”
Beth Tucker, a presenter on United fan channel The United Stand, appreciated Ronaldo’s criticism of United owners, but not his treatment of the club or Ten Hag.
“If he wanted to hit the club, he should have come out against the Glazers. I shouldn’t have faced the manager as well,” Tucker said on The United Stand.
“He thinks it’s [más grande que Ten Hag] and in the world of football it is, but at Manchester United it is not currently. No player is bigger than the club and the manager.”
Salary and behavior keep clubs away from Ronaldo
This summer Ronaldo has been linked with various teams including Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Napoli, Bayern Munich and there has even been talk of a possible return to Sporting Lisbon, where he established himself as a talent there. at 20 years.
But despite his elite striker tag and tally of 18 goals last season, Ronaldo seemed unable to attract offers to steer him away from United.
One reason is his huge salary at United, which under his current deal is around $560,000 a week.
But perhaps the biggest downside for clubs is the behavior of Ronaldo, who has now quit two games at the start of the season and has given an interview in which he openly disparages his club.
When Bayern were linked with signing Ronaldo this summer, club chief executive Oliver Kahn was quick to say the player “won’t fit in”.
He said: “I love Cristiano Ronaldo and everyone knows how fantastic he is. But every club has a certain philosophy and I don’t know if it would be the right thing for Bayern and the Bundesliga if we signed him. now.”
Despite his impressive personal journey last season, Ronaldo was regularly criticized for his behavior at United, both on and off the pitch, where other players seemed to sacrifice their own talents to serve the superstar.
Where will Ronaldo go now?
On Monday, Ronaldo tweeted that he had “total and total focus on the work of the national team” ahead of the World Cup, which begins this week.
Contacted by CNN, Man United and the Glazer family said they had no further comment after an original statement on the matter.
In the statement, the club said: “Manchester United take note of the media coverage of an interview with Cristiano Ronaldo. The club will review their response once all the facts are established.
“Our goal continues to prepare for the second half of the season and to continue the momentum, belief and unity that is building between the players, coach, staff and fans.”
Some, including former United defender Rio Ferdinand, believe Ronaldo’s association with the club will have to end.
“It was all fabricated for one thing, and that’s for him to leave the club,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five podcast.
“I don’t feel like the club accept him and I don’t think he wants to come back. Everything is fabricated for this reason.
Ronaldo still has phenomenal commercial value as a player and is the most followed person on the planet on social media platforms. Even with his incredible salary, most accountants at the club would say he’s worth signing.
But Ronaldo has struggled to find his footing lately, demanding that a club not only bring him into the squad but also build the team around him. For a 37-year-old who is arguably past his prime, that may not be something clubs are looking to do.
After this interview, it’s also clear that Ronaldo is a potential risk for an elite team and most clubs will now consider signing the striker with less admiration and more caution.
Once the hero of the game, he risks quickly becoming a villain.