Chelsea is the strong favorite to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in the January transfer window. That’s after an interview the soccer megastar gave to British broadcaster Piers Morgan that has made his position at Manchester United untenable.
Ronaldo told Morgan that he felt “betrayed” by United, and admitted he had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.
I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t show respect for me. If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never gonna have respect for you,” Ronaldo said.
It seems that Ronaldo is attempting to force an exit from United. The club said Tuesday it was seeking legal advice before responding to the interview.
Chelsea is 2/1 to take a gamble on the ageing and increasingly troublesome star.
The Portuguese is inarguably one of the greatest players to ever strut his stuff on a soccer pitch. But there has been a problem at United with cramming his considerable ego into a team that is currently a rebuild project under ten Hag.
Things came to a head in the game against Spurs on October 19 when Ronaldo, presumably insulted by being on the bench, left the game before the final whistle. Later, Ten Hag confirmed the Portuguese had refused to come on as a late substitute.
I am the manager,” ten Hag explained. “I’m responsible for the top sport culture here and I have to set standards and values, and I have to control them. We are in a team.”
For too long United has signed big-money ‘statement’ players, with an apparent lack of insight about whether these players can operate together, shoving very expensive square pegs into round holes.
It’s great for the marketing department and for selling jerseys, but it sucks for the manager who has to impose his way of playing on a group of aging superstars who know they’re bigger than he is.
Ten Hag wants players who are well-coached in his tactical principles, who press and counter-press and work for each other. Ronaldo, famously, does not press.
Pressing is a choreographed, collective action – defined as when players without possession swarm to close down an opponent en masse, either to win the ball directly and counterattack or to force the opponent to pass in a direction they want them to go.
It has been one of the defining characteristics of elite-level teams over the past five years. But it only works if it’s properly implemented by players with the nous to know exactly when to go, and it takes collective effort.
Would Chelsea Take Him?
The question is, would Chelsea want a player who is admittedly still brilliant but has insulted his manager and become an increasingly disruptive presence to his teammates?
The Blues’ new manager, Graham Potter, is also an elite tactician who wants to impose his own strategic discipline on his team. But new American owner Todd Boehly likes to make a big statement in the transfer market and Ronaldo remains the most famous footballer in the world.
Boehly wanted to sign him in the summer, which was rumored to have been one of the reasons for his falling out with now ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
If Boehly wants Ronaldo, it could come down to a battle of wills between Chelsea’s ownership and its coaching team.
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