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Top managers are running scared of Cristiano Ronaldo claims former Ireland star

Portugal’s talisman will lead his nation into battle in Tuesday’s World Cup last-16 tie against Switzerland

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after team-mate Bruno Fernandes scores their side's first goal of the game during the FIFA World Cup Group H match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. Picture date: Monday November 28, 2022.© PA

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag with Cristiano Ronaldo© Getty Images

Ronaldo with Portugal's coach Fernando Santo© AFP via Getty Images

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Cristiano Ronaldo has become too hot to handle for most managers, according to former Ireland defender Damien Delaney.

Portugal’s talisman will lead his nation into battle in Tuesday’s World Cup last-16 tie against Switzerland, with his eye on the biggest prize in the game to crown his glorious career.

Yet it seems Ronaldo’s club career in European football is set to end on a low note, after he was effectively sacked by Manchester United following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan.

Ronaldo’s agent made attempts to secure a short-term deal until the end of this season to allow the 37-year-old superstar have one final crack at winning a sixth Champions League title.

Yet after Chelsea were among the clubs who walked away from that potential deal, Ronaldo looks set to sign a mega-money contract to finish his career in Saudi Arabia.

“Ronaldo comes with a lot of baggage now and I’m not surprised managers are wary of getting involved with it all,” Delaney told the Sunday World at the launch of Virgin Media’s ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign.

Ronaldo with Portugal's coach Fernando Santo© AFP via Getty Images

“He’s still a great player, but you are going to have to make exceptions for Ronaldo if he is in your squad and a lot of managers won’t want to do that.

“The modern ethos is that everyone is treated equally and team spirit is all important and Ronaldo is a challenge to that in some ways.

“The elite managers probably looked at Ronaldo at his age and thought they would pass on that opportunity.

“He will get you goals, but it is hard to have one player in the side who is playing to different rules to the rest of the squad and that will be the case when you are as big as Ronaldo.

“His record and his career has been just incredible and he will be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time.

“I was fully sure he was going to go to America and try to boost his brand there, but it looks like he’s off to Saudi Arabia.

“That would surprise me because I don’t think money is his driving force at this stage, but it might be the best option he has on the table.”

Ronaldo’s Saudi deal is reported to be worth a mind-boggling €250m a year and he could become the front man for their bid to bring the 2030 World Cup finals to their kingdom.

“I think we can start to get used to these winter World Cups because I expect the Saudis and maybe Dubai and Abu Dhabi to bid for these events now.

“Qatar has taken a lot of the stick for moving the event to the winter and all the human rights issues,” says Delaney.

“But they have shown they can host the World Cup and I’m sure FIFA will look at the money and interest in this tournament and take it back to that region very soon.”

Delaney spoke to the Sunday World as part of Virgin Media’s ‘Gamers are Athletes’ campaign, which saw Irish football legends David Meyler and Stephanie Roche team up with Team WYLDE Athletes Tyrone Ryan and Ciaran Walsh and compete in a live FIFA battle.

As World Cup fever kicks in, Virgin Media are bringing Ireland’s top e-sports football players and Team WYLDE Athletes Tyrone Ryan and Ciaran Walsh to Turner’s Cross to play against Irish football legends David Meyler and Stephanie Roche in a live FIFA battle that will also be streamed on Twitch @ 5pm on 29th of November.


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