Ronaldo given special treatment after making demand to Portugal boss

World Cup 2022 briefing: Day 18

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Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly did not have to train with Portugal’s substitutes on Wednesday after being dropped by boss Fernando Santos for the side’s World Cup drubbing of Switzerland the night before. The iconic forward made a brief cameo after his replacement Goncalo Ramos struck a superb hat-trick in the 6-1 romp. 

Portugal’s starters and Ronaldo took part in a recovery session on Wednesday to cool down following a remarkable triumph. It might have been expected that Ronaldo would have taken part in the full training session that his fellow substitutes completed but that was not the case. 

The 37-year-old was axed from Portugal’s starting 11 and was admonished by Santos in the build-up to the last-16 clash. However, the manager would not explain whether Ronaldo’s fury at being substituted in their previous match against South Korea was the reason for demoting him to the bench. 

Ronaldo was forced to watch on as 21-year-old starlet Ramos struck a trio of fantastic goals against the Swiss. The Benfica forward, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United, also grabbed an assist on his first international start.

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Fears have been raised over Ronaldo’s condition after he opted to join the starters for a gym session over taking part in full training. Portuguese journalist Rui Miguel Martins reports that the players who started the game as substitutes started preparations for the quarter-final tie with Morocco. 

However, Spanish outlet Marca add that Portugal deny reports of any fitness concerns and say that Ronaldo’s decision to train in the gym was a ‘surprise’. It will prompt further speculation that there exists a rift between Ronaldo and Santos. 

The former Real Madrid player appeared to hit out at the 68-year-old’s decision to substitute him early in the second half of the group-stage clash with South Korea. Several lip-readers have claimed that Ronaldo told Santos: “You couldn’t substitute me quickly enough.”

Portugal’s captain was then seen arguing with an opposition player, to which Santos responded with clear fury. “Right after the match, I spoke in the flash interview, and then went to the press conference, and there I said something I’ll repeat here: on the pitch, I didn’t hear anything. I was too far, and this is why I only saw him arguing with a South Korean player, and nothing else,” Santos told journalists on Monday.

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“Have I already watched the footage? Yes. I didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all. From there, it’s things you sort out internally. It was sorted out this way, and now we think about the game tomorrow. Everyone is focused on the game.”

Meanwhile, Ronaldo has slammed speculation linking him with a £160million contract in Saudi Arabia as a ‘lie’. Journalists who were present in the mixed zone after Portugal’s victory against Switzerland report Ronaldo being asked about a possible move to the Middle East – but he said rumours were a ‘lie’. 

Ronaldo remains a free agent having had his Man Utd contract torn up in November. Al-Nassr are believed to be interested in a deal. 

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