Seemingly destined to join Manchester City in 2021 after pushing to leave Juventus, leading figures around Man United made last-ditch attempts to snatch him away from Pep Guardiola and return to what many saw as home.
It took the intervention of Sir Alex Ferguson and Rio Ferdinand to stop one of United’s greatest players turning out for their city rivals. As desperate last-minute phone calls went, the driving force of those conversations to get Ronaldo back to Old Trafford focused largely on the fact joining City would burn the bridge built between the forward and the fans across his glittering first spell at the club.
How ironic then that Ronaldo’s relationship with supporters has never looked more strained. A distraction, an irrelevance almost, from the team Erik ten Hag is trying to build, the 37-year-old has conducted an interview with Piers Morgan in which he makes his feelings clear.
Ten Hag, the Glazer family and Ronaldo’s former teammates have all come under fire in a series of explosive revelations.
So how did it go so wrong?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Why did Ronaldo do the interview with Piers Morgan?
Ronaldo has hit out at his treatment at United, having made only two starts all season.
He told Morgan he believes there figures at the club are trying to force him out.
“Yes, not only the coach, but another two or three guys around the club. I felt betrayed.
“Yes I felt betrayed and I felt like some people don’t want me here, not only this year but last year too.”
Why does Ronaldo feel betrayed?
After missing the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, Ronaldo’s future was the subject of much speculation.
Chelsea were offered the chance to sign the player, while a club in Saudi Arabia made a gargantuan offer to land lure him away from United. Such is the magnitude of his profile, rumours continued throughout the summer, though landing spots proved limited.
On huge wages and reportedly eager to play in the Champions League, only a select few clubs could realistically hope to put together a package to sign Ronaldo. While such clubs exist of course, they were never likely to commit to such a huge financial package for a player approaching 40.
During the transfer window, the proverbial rumour mill would continue to churn before Ronaldo posted an Instagram message in July, writing: “They [the media] know the truth when they [I conduct] an interview.
“The media is telling lies.”
While there were suggestions Ronaldo missed the tour because he was trying to force a move away from United, he told Morgan he was attending a family matter, due to his daughter being unwell and claimed the club’s hierarchy did not believe him.
“They believed it but it’s something that really hurt me because they doubted my words.
“We had one week in hospital because Bella had big problems and I didn’t go to the pre-season because of that.
“Because I wasn’t going to leave my family if something happened to do a pre-season because I didn’t think it was fair to leave my family.”
Why did Ronaldo criticise Neville and Rooney?
It’s not just this incarnation of United coming under criticism.
Both Neville and Rooney have been critical of Ronaldo during his second stint, with the former suggesting his career at the club was over and the latter claiming his former teammate was struggling to accept he could no longer play a starring role.
“They are not my friends,” said Ronaldo.
How have Manchester United responded to Ronaldo’s interview?
On Monday, the club released a statement saying: “Manchester United notes the media coverage regarding an interview by Cristiano Ronaldo. The club will consider its response after the full facts have been established.
"Our focus remains on preparing for the second half of the season and continuing the momentum, belief and togetherness being built among the players, manager, staff, and fans."
What next for Ronaldo?
Away with Portugal for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it’s hard to imagine anything concrete happening in regards to Ronaldo’s future in the next few weeks.
Unsurprisingly, reports suggest ten Hag wants the forward to leave, while there is also a report suggesting the club could cancel his contract.
Ronaldo’s next club odds (via Betfair)
Sporting CP 15/2
Any Saudi Arabian club 9/1
Any MLS club 10/1
Atletico Madrid 20/1
Real Madrid 50/1
Odds subject to change. Correct as of 3.30pm GMT on Wednesday, November 15, 2022.