Gary Neville believes Cristiano Ronaldo – who scored 24 goals for United this season – will stay on at the club next season despite inadvertently causing an imbalance in the dressing room upon his return.
The 37-year-old had a much-heralded homecoming in August and went on to score 24 Premier League goals, including two on his debut against Newcastle. However, goals aside, the Portugal captain’s presence at Old Trafford has been divisive.
While there have been appreciative fans arguing that the club would be deeper in the mire had it not been for the Portuguese striker’s goals galore, others are inclined to believe that his presence in the dressing room has been divisive, contributing directly to the implosion.
Neville believes Ronaldo will stay on at the club, but didn’t hesitate to highlight the negative impact he has had on his teammates, with three in particular – namely Edinson Cavani, Bruno Fernandes and skipper Harry Maguire.
“I think he’s staying,” he said while appearing on the latest episode of the Overlap.
“I think at the start of the season, he created a problem straightaway with Cavani.
“[He was] being pleaded to stay and lead the attack for the year, but when they signed Ronaldo, Cavani was shot then and finished. It upset the dynamic in the dressing room for Bruno.
“I think Bruno looks up to him like a godfather in Portugal so it made him feel a bit inferior to what he was before. It made Maguire a little bit inferior as captain just naturally – nothing from Ronaldo’s doing this.
“Just his presence itself on the pitch means everyone’s looking to Cristiano with Harry trying to establish himself as United captain.”
Neville added: “Harry Maguire has gone from someone who I think was growing on the pitch last season during Covid to someone who is now looks like he is shot to pieces when he pulls on a red shirt. Bruno looks like half the player.
“The rest of them, the young players, look completely like you’ve lost faith in them, let’s get rid of them. That’s when something’s gone fundamentally wrong in the club, in the changing room, with the leadership.
“I don’t think you can dissolve anyone of blame, everybody has to take blame for that.”