Cristiano Ronaldo says he turned down a £305m deal to join a Saudi Arabian club in the summer – a move that would have seen him become the highest-paid footballer in the world.
In an interview with TalkTV, Ronaldo said he chose to stay at Manchester United because he was “happy here”.
Spanish newspaper Marca reported that Al-Hilal had offered the Portugal forward a two-year deal.
“It’s true, yes it’s true,” said Ronaldo when asked about the rumours.
“But what the press keep saying, the garbage that nobody wants me, which is completely wrong.
“And I was happy here to be honest, I was motivated to do a great season here. But they [the media] continue to repeat that nobody wants Cristiano. How do they not want a player who scored 32 goals last year, with a national team?”
On turning down the money, Ronaldo told host Piers Morgan: “It’s hard, it’s hard. But in the same way, I thought that I was very happy here; that I still capable to score goals.
“I still believe that I can score many, many goals and help the team because I still believe that I’m still good and capable to help the national team – even Manchester United. But if you don’t feel around you that the energy’s on your side, it’s difficult.
“Of course, the criticism is going to exist all the time, ‘ah he’s 37, he’s not the same’. But I want to see if some guys of my age can maintain the level that I show. Yes, in this moment, I feel very, very good. I believe that I’m going to do an amazing World Cup and I’m prepared, physically and mentally.”
Ronaldo has made headlines this week following his interview with Morgan, in which he said he felt “betrayed” by United, had “no respect” for manager Erik ten Hag and is being forced out of the club.
In the section broadcast on Thursday, Ronaldo went into more detail about his “betrayal”, admitting he did not regret refusing to come on as a substitute for the final few minutes in a win against Tottenham at Old Trafford, as he felt Ten Hag had “provoked” him.
His former team-mate at Old Trafford, Gary Neville, says United “know they have to terminate” Ronaldo’s contract following the interview, but the striker has no plans to stop playing.
“I want to play two years more, three years more,” said Ronaldo. “So two or three years maximum. I want to finish with 40. I think 40 will be a good age.
“But I don’t know, I don’t know the future. Sometimes you plan one thing for your life and as I told many times, the life is dynamic. And you never know what’s going to happen.”
‘There can really only be one outcome’ – analysis
Simon Stone, BBC Sport
Well, now everyone knows the full extent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview, Manchester United have to decide what they do about it.
External legal opinion has already been expressed that Ronaldo is in breach of contract by conducting an interview like this. He didn’t tell the club he was doing it and whilst the second half offered some contrition for his behaviour, it merely added fuel to the fire he lit under his relationship with his manager, Erik ten Hag.
The idea Ronaldo’s relationship with Ten Hag can be repaired and trust established is fanciful. And the reception he would get from the fans he professes to still have close to his heart, if he returned to play in front of them before the end of the year, would be somewhat frosty.
United are still to make an official statement beyond saying they need to get to the bottom of what Ronaldo has done. They have, however, privately let it be known they feel the club is moving under the right direction under Ten Hag and they retain pride in the staff Ronaldo publicly ridiculed.
There can really only be one outcome, something that seemed certain to happen when Ronaldo stormed out of Old Trafford during that fateful Tottenham game. Many were surprised he returned to the club after that. It may be some time before he is back again.