Cristiano Ronaldo’s scathing criticism of Manchester United will not have an impact on Portugal’s quest for World Cup glory in Qatar, insists midfielder Joao Mario.
Ronaldo has endured a torrid season after reportedly expressing his desire to leave Old Trafford in the transfer window, making just four Premier League starts and scoring just once in the competition.
After Erik ten Hag was temporarily banned from first-team action after refusing to come on as a substitute against Tottenham last month, Ronaldo’s United future is once again in doubt following his decision to give an explosive interview to Piers Morgan.
In the first excerpts released from the interview, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner claimed he had been “betrayed” by United and said he had no respect for Ten Hag.
Ronaldo is set to begin his fifth and likely final World Cup campaign this month and international team-mate Joao Mario does not believe Portugal will suffer for the 37-year-old’s actions.
“I don’t see a problem with the timing, so it’s fine for us,” Joao Mario told a press conference on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it puts more pressure on him or us. We’re used to dealing with a lot of pressure.
“It’s not the first time a player comes to the national team with a problem with his club. One of the advantages is that when we’re here, we put everything aside.
“When we get to the national team, it’s another task force and we try to focus on the most important thing.
“The headlines are always about him. To be honest, every time we come to the national team, the first questions are always about Ronaldo. He’s always the center of attention and we’re used to it.
“He’s always happy when he’s with the national team. I saw him yesterday and he’s fine, as he always is when he comes here.”
“He is fully focused on the national team and will be a big help for us at the World Cup.”
Portugal will open their campaign in Group H against Ghana on November 24 after taking on Nigeria in a pre-tournament warm-up on Thursday.
Ronaldo, who scored at the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups, could become the first player to score in five different editions of the tournament when he takes to the pitch in Qatar.
However, all seven of his World Cup goals so far have come in the group stage – no player has scored more goals in a tournament without finding the net in a knockout game.