Manchester United forward Anthony Elanga has publicly defended teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after he said young players "don't care" and "lack hunger".
In a fascinating, tell-all interview with Piers Morgan, five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo spoke about a range of topics, including his fractured relationship with manager Erik ten Hag, who 'provoked' him to walk out of Old Trafford last month, and his thoughts on former interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
The 37-year-old also spoke about the youth of today.
"I don’t think that word [respect] is the best one, they live in a different era," Ronaldo said of his younger team-mates. "I can see with my kid, who is 12-years-old, the mentality is not the same."
Ronaldo also spoke about the difference between young players now and those from his generation.
"The hunger. They have things more easily. Everything is easy," he said. "They don’t suffer, they don’t care. I don’t mean just Man United, but all teams. They are not the same as my generation.
"But we cannot blame them. It is part of the life of the new generation, the new technologies which distract them from other things.
"They are not the same. They listen, but they hear one side [and it goes out the other ear]. It doesn’t surprise me, but it is a shame.
"If they have the best examples in front of them, if they don’t at least copy what you did, it’s kind of weird.
"I remember when I was 18, 19, 20, I was always looking to see the best players – Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs – this is why I have had the success I have had and the longevity, because I take care of my body, my mentality, my head, that’s because I saw those guys and learnt from them.
"I think the best advice… I’m not the kind of guy who likes to give advice, I like to lead from example. I’m there every morning, I do the same stuff, I’m probably the first person to arrive and the last one to leave.
"They listen to one thing, and in two minutes they have already forgot. I like to lead by example. Some follow me, not much. They don’t care. Some ones yes, but most of them no. To me it is not surprising. They are not going to have longevity in their careers.
"It is impossible. My generation you see players at 36, 37, 38 playing at a high level. I don’t think many in this [new] generation are going to reach that level."
Many people have had their say on Ronaldo's interview, including Anthony Elanga, who was asked about his teammate's comments after Sweden’s 2-1 win against Mexico this week.
Speaking to Swedish outlet Aftonbladet, the 20-year-old forward said: “Cristiano talks about young players in general. We are a new generation. I am always 100 percent focused on what I am doing, but I can understand what he is saying.
“There are a lot of phones and a lot of technology. It’s quite easy for young players to get distracted and lose focus. I always focus 100 percent on my job and what I do.
"Young players at United are listening, but I can understand what he is saying."
He added: “It is quite difficult. Everyone has their phones and I have friends in Manchester and in Sweden who want to find out what has happened. I don’t know that myself. I only know what others have heard. Hopefully I will find out the truth.
“I try to switch off. But everyone is curious, my family is almost the worst, they always want to know. That’s how it is. I might be able to say more after I get back to the club team and find out what actually happened.”
Elanga was also asked how much Ronaldo means to him. “Very much," the United youth product said. "He has helped me a lot not only on the pitch but off it as well. He is an inspiration, not only to me but to all the young players at United. Sometimes it’s just me and him at the gym.”
Despite some hard hitting comments in the interview with Morgan, Elanga says his opinion of the former Real Madrid and Juventus forward has not changed.
“No, not so much. Because when I’m with him, he hasn’t changed," he says. "He is still Cristiano Ronaldo to me. He has helped me a lot."
Featured Image Credit: Piers Morgan Uncensored/Alamy
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