Bruno Fernandes has insisted that his respect for Cristiano Ronaldo will not be tarnished by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s acrimonious exit from Manchester United earlier this week. It was revealed on Tuesday that the Red Devils had parted ways with Ronaldo by mutual consent and would not be paying off the rest of his lucrative deal at Old Trafford, which was scheduled to run until the end of the current season.
The nature of Ronaldo’s exit in the wake of his tell-all interview with Piers Morgan earlier this month raised questions over whether the harmony of the Portugal squad would be affected at the World Cup, with the 37-year-old set to lead his country into battle against Ghana on Thursday evening. However, Fernandes has since played down rumours of a rift between the pair by insisting that his relationship with Ronaldo has not been damaged in spite of the latter’s departure from United.
“I don’t feel uncomfortable with Cristiano, I don’t have to pick a side,” Fernandes told reporters. “It was a privilege to play with Crist at the club, a dream and I’ve always said that. He has always been an inspiration for me.
“It was a dream come true to be able to play with Cris. It was great for me and good while it lasted. Cristiano took a different decision for his life, his career, and we have to respect such decisions.
“Every decision has to be respected. We as players – but also as parents and brothers – know it might be difficult to take some decisions. But these decisions have to be for the wellness for ourselves and our families.”
Fernandes is also expected to play a starring role for Portugal in their Group H opener against Ghana and will be hoping to pull the strings behind Ronaldo in order to lead Fernando Santos’ men to victory at Stadium 974 in Doha. He went on to reveal that he is yet to speak with Ronaldo about the manner of his United departure, with all eyes firmly on their national team as they look to challenge for a maiden World Cup triumph over the course of the next few weeks.
“Cris hasn’t discussed his decision with me,” added Fernandes. “It’s his decision, an issue pertaining to him and his family. We are all focused on the national team, on the World Cup, you’re all aware of how important playing for the national team is for all of us.
“We are in a championship. It’s the dream to play the finals. Our focus is on the national team. We’re all aware of what we have to do. We know these issues can affect individual players and Cristiano could have been worried at a specific moment.
“But we know what the World Cup means for him and he has mentioned how winning the 2016 Euros was a great achievement for him. We usually make a huge noise about things that are going on in our lives. It happens, but I’m sure with Cristiano that his focus has always been there.”
MORE TO FOLLOW
We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures, and video on this breaking news story.
For the latest news and breaking news visit: /sport
Stay up to date with all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion, and video on the stories that matter to you.
Follow us on Twitter @DExpress_Sport – the official Daily Express & Express.co.uk Twitter account – providing real news in real-time.
We’re also on Facebook @DailyExpressSport – offering your must-see news, features, videos, and pictures throughout the day to like, comment, and share from the Daily Express, Sunday Express, and Express.co.uk.