Cristiano Ronaldo has been put on notice by Portugal coach Fernando Santos over his ugly reaction to being substituted in the team's final group game against South Korea at the World Cup. Santos insists the team has moved on from the drama ahead of Wednesday morning's (AEDT) round of 16 clash against Switzerland.
Portugal captain Ronaldo reacted angrily after being substituted in his side's 2-1 defeat to Korea last week, initially saying he was "insulted" by an opposition player as he was walking off the pitch. Portuguese media later showed images suggesting he used vulgar language in response to Santos's decision to bench him.
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Santos was asked for his reaction to the images of an irate Ronaldo in which the Portugal coach told a news conference: "I didn't like it at all. I didn't like it at all." He stressed, however, that a line had been drawn under the incident.
"Then these matters are resolved, resolved in-house," he added. "They are over. It is the end of the story regarding this issue and now we're thinking about the game tomorrow and everyone is fully focused on the match preparations."
Ronaldo's starting role in the team remains a hot topic among Portugal fans, but Santos said he was not paying attention to the debate or online polls on the issue. Much like the case at Manchester United before his messy exit was confirmed before the World Cup, much of the criticism around Ronaldo is centred on his lack of work off the ball and willingness to press high up on the pitch.
"I do not read this type of material," Santos said about the polls in Portugal calling for Ronaldo to start off the bench. "It is not a lack of respect, it is simply that we have three days to train for a game and I am not looking at other kinds of news. We focus on the upcoming match."
Santos said he expected a close contest against Switzerland, who his side beat 4-0 in the UEFA Nations League in June, before losing 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
"It won't be the first time against the Swiss, we know it will be a difficult match," he added. "They are a well-organised team with high-quality players and they know their way of playing very well.
"They are very well synced and are always focused and that is what we expect in this match - we will face a disciplined side."
Saudi club in 'serious negotiations' for Cristiano Ronaldo
Santos' comments about Ronaldo come amid reports the 37-year-old's talks have advanced with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr. One source said the club were in "serious negotiations" with the 37-year-old but an agreement had not yet been reached because of issues with Ronaldo's image rights.
The Portuguese forward left United last month after giving an explosive TV interview in which he took aim at the club and said he did not respect manager, Erik ten Hag. Reports have emerged that Ronaldo will sign a two-and-a-half year deal with Al-Nassr worth a staggering $AUD770 million.
Sources at the Saudi club have insisted that nothing has yet been agreed or signed. It's expected that Ronaldo will hold off contract negotiations until his World Cup comes to an end with Portugal, whenever that may be.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner could join Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina and Cameroon midfielder Vincent Aboubakar, who currently play at Al-Nassr. The Portugal captain became the first player to score at five men's World Cups when he netted a penalty in their opening 3-2 win over Ghana in Qatar.
Portugal, aiming to win a first World Cup trophy, face Switzerland in the last-16 on Wednesday morning (AEDT), having topped their group ahead of Korea, who were knocked out after a 4-1 defeat to Brazil in Tuesday's round of 16 action. Croatia defeated Japan 3-1 on penalties in the day's other game after the match ended 1-1 after full-time and extra time.
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