Cristiano Ronaldo’s acrimonious Manchester United exit “won’t affect” his legacy at Old Trafford, former team-mate Diego Forlan told Stats Perform.
United announced last month they had reached a mutual agreement with Ronaldo to terminate his contract with immediate effect, following a controversial interview prior to the World Cup.
The Portugal captain, who scored 145 goals in 346 appearances for the club, did not hold back with his array of criticisms, including ones directed towards manager Erik ten Hag, and it became apparent he was on borrowed time at Old Trafford.
Forlan played alongside Ronaldo during the latter’s debut season with the Red Devils in 2003-04, and the ex-Uruguay forward was disappointed at the nature of his former team-mate’s departure.
“It won’t affect [his legacy], but obviously it wasn’t the best [exit],” he said. “The truth is that it was a pity, because we are talking about one of the best players in history, a great professional and a club that is an example.
“The fact that it’s broken, it is a real shame. Because he, like other great footballers that were players at the club, were ambassadors of the club itself.
“In general, these kind of players have the chance to play where they want, but maybe not where they would prefer now, because of their age.
“Some clubs would love to have them, but today it is more difficult because clubs look more at numbers and age, and the teams start taking other decisions. But will have to see what motivates him, what he likes and which options of different clubs will be available for him.”
Controversy has followed Ronaldo to the World Cup, where Portugal were forced to deny reports he had quit the squad after being dropped to the bench for the thumping 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last 16.
That came after head coach Fernando Santos criticised his reaction to being substituted against South Korea, and it remains to be seen if Ronaldo will feature in their quarter-final showdown with Morocco on Saturday.
This is likely to be the 37-year-old’s swansong at the finals, while the same can be said of long-time rival Lionel Messi, with Argentina set to face the Netherlands in the last eight.
Should this be the last stand for both players on the world’s biggest stage, Forlan believes seeing either of them lift the trophy would provide a fitting ending to their international careers.
“It is what they are looking for,” he added. “They have so many titles, many of them repeated many times, that it would be the grand finale, to end with a World Cup.”
The former Uruguay captain, who was the joint-top scorer as La Celeste reached the 2010 semi-finals, is backing leading scorer Kylian Mbappe to go on and land the Golden Boot.
“[The Golden Boot race] will depend on the team, how far it goes,” he said. “If France has the chance to reach the final, I think that Mbappe has enough goals to be able to win the Golden Boot.”