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Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United agree to 'mutual' soccer split

Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo agreed this week to a mutual split after the soccer star criticized the club in an interview. Photo by Peter Powell/EPA-EFE
Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo agreed this week to a mutual split after the soccer star criticized the club in an interview. Photo by Peter Powell/EPA-EFE

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United agreed to a mutual split, effective immediately, the English Premier League franchise announced Tuesday.

"The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future," the Red Devils said in a news release.

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Sources told multiple news outlets last week that the Red Devils were considering a contract termination after the soccer icon made critical comments about the club in an unsanctioned interview. Those reports stated that United started the legal process against Ronaldo for a breach of contract.

The club also said last week that it "initiated appropriate steps in response" to Ronaldo's interview. Ronaldo, who is now playing for Portugal at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, criticized Red Devils manager Erik ten Hag and others within the franchise Sunday in an interview with TalkTV's Piers Morgan.

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Premier League employment contracts state that players shall not "knowingly or recklessly" say anything that "is likely to bring the club or the game of football into disrepute, cause the player or the club to be in breach of the rules or cause damage to the club or its officers or employees."

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Ronaldo, 37, scored three times in six appearances this season for the Red Devils. He signed up for his second stint with the team in 2021. That pact was for two years, with a third-year option.

Portugal will open its World Cup slate against Ghana on Thursday in Doha, Qatar. Manchester United is set to face Cadiz in a friendly Dec. 7 in Cadiz, Spain.

"Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team's progress under Erik ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch," the Red Devils said.

Ronaldo, who announced Tuesday that he reached 500 million Instagram followers, did not publicly comment on his split with the Red Devils.

World Cup 2022 begins in Qatar

Pedro Miguel of Qatar (L) moves the ball as Romario Ibarra of Ecuador defends during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Group A match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on November 20, 2022. Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0 in the opening match. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI | License Photo

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