Cristiano Ronaldo could walk away from Manchester United over the summer due to a lack of Champions League football, claims Dimitar Berbatov, with the Portuguese superstar having some big career calls to make.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner signed a two-year contract when making an emotional return to Old Trafford in 2021.
He has hit 23 goals across his first season back in England, but those exploits have not been enough to deliver a top-four finish or major silverware, meaning that the all-time great may decide at 37 years of age to fulfil his ambitions elsewhere – with a possible retracing of steps to Real Madrid being speculated on.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo be at Manchester United in 2022-23?
Former Red Devils striker Berbatov told Betfair of a player he spent the 2008-09 campaign playing alongside at United: “Ronaldo is doing incredibly well for his age with the way he plays and the goals he scores. To have so many Premier League goals in a season at his age is an incredible achievement. He is doing what he needs to do, and that is score goals.
“His game is different now than it was before, but one thing is a constant, the goals. He still produces and scores which is so important.
“He has one more year at United, which is a good thing in my opinion, and now it is down to him whether he stays or leaves. I’d be glad to see him stay and of course things depend on the new manager and on what Ronaldo wants. He is an icon in football and when you are like that your opinion matters.
“I’d be happy to see him stay and continue scoring as well as helping the players around him. If he decides to go, obviously you can not blame him. When you are used to playing Champions League football every year of your career and then you don’t have it, it’s tough to accept.
“His performances this season show how well he is taking care of himself. He will want to play as long as he can and show that the impossible is possible. He has proven that he can still do it at 37 in the Premier League, he likes to prove people wrong and I’m pretty sure that he will want to continue doing that and play a few more years.
“When he stops it will be a sad day for football because he’s one of the true greats. That day comes for everyone.”
Has Ronaldo ever not played Champions League football?
Ronaldo has played Champions League football of some kind in every season of his senior career to date.
He has not always graced the group stage and beyond of that competition, but even his 2002-03 campaign at Sporting saw him figure in a qualifying clash with Inter.
Since then, he has gone on to become the all-time leading goalscorer on the elite European stage – finding the target on 140 occasions through 183 appearances – and has savoured continental glory on five occasions.
The first of those successes came during a first spell with United in 2008, with the other four taken in during a record-breaking stint at Real Madrid between 2013-14 and 2017-18.