Portugal boss Santos insists Ronaldo never wanted to leave World Cup camp and details conversation after dropping superstar

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Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 2022
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Portugal boss Fernando Santos insists Cristiano Ronaldo never expressed any desire to walk out on his country’s squad at the 2022 World Cup.
  • All-time great benched against Switzerland
  • Reports of wanting to walk away
  • Still in the squad and could face Morocco

WHAT HAPPENED? After being dropped to the bench for a last-16 showdown with Switzerland, reports emerged suggesting that Ronaldo had requested to be released from the fold – having already seen his contract at Manchester United ripped up early on in the tournament. Santos is adamant that no such discussion took place, with the Portuguese FA having already moved to rubbish claims that are providing an unwelcome distraction.

WHAT THEY SAID: Santos told reporters when asked about the latest saga surrounding his talismanic captain: "I think it's high time to leave Ronaldo alone. He has never told me that he wanted to leave our national team and I think it's high time we stopped with this conversation, that we stop with the polemics."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: While denying that Ronaldo ever asked to leave, Santos has had to expand on his reasons for taking the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out of his starting XI for the 6-1 rout of the Swiss. He added: "I spoke to him after lunch on the day of the game and invited him into my office. For obvious reasons Cristano was not very happy about it as he has always been the starting player. He told me: 'Do you really think it's a good idea?' but we had a normal conversation in which I explained my viewpoints and of course he accepted them. We had a frank and normal conversation."

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Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo Joao Mario Portugal 2022

Fernando Santos Portugal 2022

WHAT NEXT? Ronaldo was forced to watch on from the bench as his replacement, Goncalo Ramos, netted a hat-trick in a thumping win over Switzerland and will be aware that a starting berth in the quarter-final clash with Morocco on Saturday is far from guaranteed.