Cristiano Ronaldo took centre stage in Qatar for Portugal’s opening group stage game against Ghana and in doing so, joined a select few to play in five World Cups. While that was one of the focuses, the main one heading into the clash was the situation surrounding the forward leading up to the tournament.
Ronaldo’s infamous outburst to Piers Morgan in an exclusive interview saw him call out Manchester United, leading to a mutual termination of his contract at the club. With the 37-year-old now a free agent, he can show exactly what he is capable of before deciding his future on the club stage.
Chelsea are one of the sides linked with a potential switch for the Portugal international in the coming weeks, with the stage set to offer a chance to show his best attributes after missing out on a move to land him in the summer. It’s led to Graeme Souness believing Ronaldo will pull out his best performances during the World Cup.
When asked about the drama surrounding his interview, Souness told ITV: “I think he’ll be relieved, he’s a player who enjoys the limelight and the spotlight’s certainly on him. All the questions will be asked where is he going to end up, but he’ll relish the challenge. This is his last World Cup, and he’ll see this as a chance to go out with a real big bang.”
It’s something that former Manchester United teammate Roy Keane has agreed with, believing he will perform to the best of his abilities, also telling ITV: “I’m looking forward to seeing him play. That team should have settled down by now, he’s done his talking over the last month or two with his interviews and now he needs to do his talking on the pitch and I hope he performs.
“I believe he will, and do it on the pitch, show a few people out there who’ve been criticising him. Great great player, (I was) lucky to play with him, I’m delighted to be watching him again tonight, he’s an amazing player.”
It remains to be seen where his future may lie after the World Cup, be it at Stamford Bridge or elsewhere. However, his time with Portugal could determine a lot around his next club team, with his performances showing exactly what he can do on the biggest stage of them all.