Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has issued a defence of Cristiano Ronaldo amid continued criticisms over his attitude.
The 37-year-old is currently at the World Cup as a free agent having agreed to a mutual exit from Manchester United in November, following increasing tension between himself and manager Erik ten Hag.
Ronaldo’s behavioural problems have been publicised to a stunning extent in recent times, walking out twice on United during matches this season and being dropped by Ten Hag as a result the second time around.
The same issues seem to have followed him into the Portugal camp in what is expected to be his final World Cup. Ronaldo was unhappy with being substituted in his nation’s 2-1 defeat to South Korea and started on the bench as they thrashed Switzerland 6-1, playing some 20 minutes and having to watch his replacement Goncalo Ramos bag a hat-trick.
The Portuguese Football Federation released a statement on December denying reports in Portugal that Ronaldo had threatened to walk out on Fernando Santos and the team in Qatar. Amid the drama, Ancelotti, who managed Ronaldo for two seasons, offered a defence to Corriere dello Sport: “Ronaldo probably still feels in his 20s because he’s fine, he’s got the answers he’s looking for in his body.
“The competition has become tough,” he added: “I’ve coached him for two years and there were no problems. In fact he solved them for me.
“Cristiano trains well, he pays attention to detail, everything was easy for me to manage. He is an exceptional player.”
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Ronaldo himself released a statement addressing the reports after Portugal did so, talking up the unity among Santos’ squad.
Portugal take on Morocco in the World Cup quarter-final on December 10, where it remains to be seen if the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be restored to a starting berth as a result of the team’s exceptional last 16 performance without him.