Ex-England star, Wayne Rooney, admits Cristiano Ronaldo “got what he wanted” when forcing an exit at Manchester United, but says the Portuguese remains a club legend.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner severed ties with the Red Devils in November 2022 after taking aim at several prominent figures from the club’s present and past in an explosive interview. Rooney concedes that the 38-year-old – who is now in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr – knew what he was doing there, with the all-time great leaving United with no choice but to rip up his contract and move in a different direction.
Rooney, who is United’s all-time leading goalscorer, has told CNN of seeing Ronaldo manufacture a move away from Old Trafford: “I suppose he got what he wanted. For Manchester United, it was important to move on as quick as possible from that and really refocus on the group of players who were there and wanted to be there.
And I think that’s where [Erik] ten Hag has done a really good job in refocusing the players and getting them in a position where they are, obviously, comfortably in the top four, and also winning the [Carabao] Cup.”
There have been suggestions that Ronaldo has tarnished his image in the eyes of United supporters with his antics during a second spell in England, but Rooney insists that his former team-mate remains an icon in Manchester.
He added: “No, I think what he’s done for Manchester United is great. And he’s won Premier League titles, won the Champions League, scored many goals. So I think certainly for the fans and certainly for the players, his former team-mates who played with him from my time especially, we’ll never forget what he did for Manchester United. Because in my eyes, he’ll always be a club legend and it’s a shame the way it ended of course this time round. But I don’t think that takes anything away from his legacy at the club.”
Ronaldo registered 118 goals for United during his first stint with the club – winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League – while he found the target on 27 occasions through 54 appearances after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2021.