Does Ronaldo have Portugal future under Martinez? New boss reveals whether CR7 is in his plans after Al-Nassr transfer
- All-time great benched at 2022 World Cup
- Now playing club football in Saudi Arabia
- Has 196 caps and 118 goals for his country
WHAT HAPPENED? The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has earned 196 caps for his country, helping them to European Championship and Nations League glory while also becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football with 118 efforts to his name. Ronaldo did, however, see plenty of bench duty at the 2022 World Cup, and has subsequently linked up with Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr after leaving Manchester United as a free agent, leading to questions being asked of whether he will figure in a new era for Portugal as Martinez inherits the managerial reins from Fernando Santos.
WHAT THEY SAID: Martinez told reporters at his official unveiling when asked if Ronaldo has a part to play in his plans: “Decisions have to be made on the pitch. I'm not a coach who makes hasty decisions. I want to meet everyone, and starting today I want to talk and get to know all the players. Cristiano is part of that list, he spent 19 years with the national team and deserves respect, let's talk. From there, it's up to me to make the best list for the European Championship. Tomorrow we'll start working, getting to know all the players, and Cristiano is one of them.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Martinez added on Ronaldo’s status within the Portuguese set-up, with a senior international bow having been made back in 2003: “We are going to start a footballing process to try to get to know all the players that could be part of this selection. We are going to give all the players an opportunity and respect all those who are already in the selection. Cristiano is one of them. It's a process that we have to face naturally, with responsibility, and we're going to make important decisions for the team.”
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WHAT NEXT? Portugal bowed out of the 2022 World Cup at the quarter-final stage after suffering a shock defeat to Morocco and will not be back in action until opening their Euro 2024 qualification campaign against Liechtenstein on March 23.