Roberto Martinez breaks silence over Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal future after replacing Fernando Santos
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Former Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has outlined his plans for Cristiano Ronaldo after replacing Fernando Santos as Portugal head coach.
Ronaldo was reduced to tears after Morocco dumped Portugal out of the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar, with the Al Nassr star’s future cast in doubt at the time.
Santos axed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner from Portugal’s 6-1 drubbing of Switzerland in the last 16, with Goncalo Ramos scoring a hat-trick in Ronaldo’s absence.
Ronaldo’s partner, Georgina Rodriguez, even pulled no punches towards former Portugal manager Santos after the former Juventus star was dropped for the Switzerland match.
The 28-year-old Spanish model also slammed Santos, who was axed after the World Cup, for his treatment towards Ronaldo after Morocco’s 1-0 win over Portugal.
Martinez stepped down as Belgium manager after the Red Devils’ disappointing World Cup campaign before replacing Santos at Portugal.
The former Belgium boss, who spent six years with the Red Devils, will now hope to lead Portugal to Euro 2024 in Germany and the 2026 World Cup in North America.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Martinez insisted that Ronaldo deserves “respect” and the Manchester United and Real Madrid legend is very much part of his plans.
“Football decisions have to be taken on the field of play,” he said.
“I’m not an office decision-making coach. So, my starting point is to get to all the players and I want to get in touch with them.
“The list of 26 players from the World Cup is my starting point and Cristiano is a player on that list, he has been with the national team for 19 years and he deserves the respect of being able to sit down and talk.
“From there it is to create, in ten weeks, the best team for our matches, for the qualification for the European Championship. Today is a day of satisfaction.
“Tomorrow we will start working, getting to know all the players and Cristiano is one of them.”
Martinez, whose Portugal contract expires at the end of the 2026 World Cup, added that he must ensure that “every player [has] an opportunity” under his reign.
“From here, there are 54 players in the five biggest leagues who are under 28 years old, we have Benfica and FC Porto in the Champions League,” he explained.
“In other words, my job is to give every player an opportunity and respect everyone who is already in the national team.
“From then on, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them. It is a natural process, work and responsibility and of making important decisions for the team.”
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Roberto Martinez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Football