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Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Manchester United; its U.S. owners talk of selling

(VFAB) — Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United with immediate effect, the English Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

In a brief statement, United said the decision, which comes a week after Ronaldo gave an explosive TV interview about his frustrations at the club, was made by mutual agreement.

Also Tuesday, Manchester United’s owners announced their intention to explore the sale of the iconic club, saying a “process to explore strategic alternatives” had begun.

Ronaldo is currently with the Portugal national team in Qatar for the World Cup and said on Monday that the timing of his recent comments about United wouldn’t affect the concentration of his Portuguese teammates.

In an interview with Piers Morgan for TalkTV released just before the start of the World Cup, Ronaldo explained how he felt United had betrayed him and that he has no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo’s departure from United brings the 37-year-old’s second spell at the club to an acrimonious and disappointing end. He scored just once in 10 Premier League appearances this season. He has largely been used as a substitute by Ten Hag and last month refused to go onto the pitch against Tottenham Hotspur.

This is likely to be Ronaldo’s last appearance at a World Cup, and beyond that it is unclear which club will sign him for the second half of the season.

When he first joined United in 2003, Ronaldo transformed himself from a tricky, skilful winger into one of the best players in the world.

He won three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League, and the first of his five Ballon d’Or crowns before moving to Real Madrid in 2009.

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Ronaldo’s return to United from Juventus last year was greeted with much fanfare by the club’s supporters, but his second period at Old Trafford failed to match the success of his first as United ended last season without any trophies.

In the announcement of a possible sale, United said the Glazer family was exploring outside funding to enhance growth — a move that could pave the way to a potential buyout.

While there is no guarantee the Glazers will cede complete control of United, the news will provide hope to the team’s supporters who have long-campaigned to drive out the American family, which also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The late tycoon Malcolm Glazer bought United in 2005 for 790 million pounds (then about $1.4 billion) amid a backlash from fans.

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