Portugal national team boss Fernando Santos has said that going forward, Cristiano Ronaldo’s role with the national team needs to be defined.
Santos was speaking after his side’s thumping win against Switzerland in the World Cup’s round of 16 tie.
Ronaldo was named on the bench after Santos suggested his unhappiness at the 37-year-old’s attitude in the South Korea defeat.
In his place, Gonçalo Ramos was selected and scored a hat trick to fire the Seleçao to the quarter-finals, where they will do battle against Morocco.
Ronaldo’s non-inclusion represents the first time he did not start a game for Portugal in a major tournament since Euro 2008.
Santos said on the striker’s situation, “That is still something that has to be defined. I have a very close relationship with him – I always have, I have known him since he was 19 years old.”
“This relationship only develops, Ronaldo and I never interpret the human aspect of that of manager and player (in relation to) what we have to do during the match.”
“I will always consider in my role that he is an important player to have in the team … It is important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world at playing professionally, being captain.”
Santos was quizzed on whether Ronaldo would start against Morocco. He cleverly dodged the question, instead saying he would definitely be involved.
Santos’ handling of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s situation greatly mirrors what Erik ten Hag went through when Ronaldo was still at the club.
It was evident the team play better in his absence, but the goalscorer was unable to accept a reduced role as he has now taken in the Portugal setup.
This led to a bitter exit from Old Trafford. Like Ten Hag, Santos is doing the right thing and the team as a whole will benefit from his brave decision.