Cristiano Ronaldo’s frozen out at Manchester United will not affect Portugal’s thinking.
Fernando Santos says Cristiano Ronaldo’s struggles at Manchester United won’t affect his role with Portugal at the World Cup in Qatar.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was reduced to a peripheral role on the bench alongside England defender Harry Maguire.
New-look United have reversed last season’s slump under Erik ten Hag, with Ronaldo making frequent second-half appearances.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal after being named to Portugal’s latest Nations League squad in Thursday’s Europa League match against Sheriff.
Despite recalling Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix, Santos feels his captain will still provide plenty of value over the coming months.
“I have absolutely no worries about Ronaldo’s lack of playing time for Manchester United,” the Portugal boss says. “As with any player, I have to work out the situation with him.”
“But I don’t think anyone has doubts that Ronaldo continues to be of great importance to the national team.”
Tiago Djalo and Pedro Neto were notable inclusions, with Diogo Jota keeping his place despite injury struggles at Liverpool, whereas Goncalo Guedes, David Carmo, and Goncalo Inacio missed out.
“I started preparing a list with 55 names on it, and even, so it was not easy, so imagine what it’s like having to choose 26,” he added. “It’s very difficult, fortunately, for Portugal and for me.
At last, Santos added, “What would be bad would be having to select 26 but only have 20 or so players to choose from. It’s a headache, but it’s a good headache.”
Due to injuries, Otavio Monteiro and Renato Sanches missed out as Portugal prepared for Nations League, where Spain leads Group A2 by one point with two games left to play.