Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves has insisted the Portugal dressing room is unphased by the recent controversy surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s dramatic Manchester United exit. The 25-year-old, who is Ronaldo’s international teammate, sent out an emphatic message to the media ahead of Portugal’s World Cup opener against Ghana.
United announced on Tuesday, November 22 that Ronaldo would be leaving the Red Devils with immediate effect, as the two parties had agreed on a mutual termination of the attacker’s contract. The decision followed an explosive interview with Piers Morgan, as Ronaldo effectively buried United with plenty of brutal honesty.
Ronaldo made a string of striking revelations, including a feeling that United lacked respect for him and his family as they went through a tragedy during pre-season. He claimed the club hadn’t fully believed his personal circumstances - leading to a whole host of negative articles in the press.
As is the nature of such a huge interview just days before the start of a major international tournament, there has been lots of speculation that it has caused unrest in the Portugal camp for the World Cup. One viral video even appeared to show Ronaldo blanked by fellow United star Bruno Fernandes in the dressing room.
Wolves star Neves, who himself is a key player for Portugal, took the earliest opportunity he had to quash the noise with his own firm message. “There is no controversy in the changing room,” Neves said ahead of his side’s clash with Ghana. “This controversy exists in the media. We are 100% focused on our World Cup campaign.
“We have a spectacular environment and that is our focus. Sure, it’s impossible for us to walk around without being asked about the controversy, but I don’t think there is anything at all between us. From what I’ve seen, [Ronaldo] is in spectacular form, so this is not an issue which concerns us. We are totally aware we have to perform as a team in order to get the most out of each individual. Cristiano is no different. If we play well, he will be phenomenal.”
A pretty clear message from Neves, then, as he, Ronaldo and Portugal prepare to take on Ghana at 4pm on Thursday, November 24. Fernando Santos’ side then face Uruguay on Monday, November 28 before rounding off Group H against South Korea on Friday, December 2.