DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Manchester United “with immediate effect,” the Premier League club said Tuesday, days after he gave an explosive interview criticizing manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s owners.
It wasn’t known where the 37-year-old Ronaldo will go next next after failing to secure a move to a Champions League club in the summer.
“Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early,” Ronaldo said. “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 is currently in Qatar with Portugal as he aims to win a first World Cup title for his country, has been left frustrated after being reduced to a fringe member of United’s team this season.
The Portugal captain said he felt “betrayed” during the 90-minute interview with Piers Morgan, which aired Thursday and in which he was also critical of younger players.
United said last week that it had initiated appropriate steps in response to his comments, with the cancellation of his contract widely expected.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect,” it said on Tuesday. “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.”
That statement didn’t convey the club’s dismay after the unauthorized interview.
Ronaldo’s sudden exit could also speed up United’s plans to sign a new center forward.
Ten Hag had planned to address his attack at the end of the season, but may now have to look for a replacement during the January window.