Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Manchester United with immediate effect

Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United with immediate effect, the club has announced.

In a statement, the club said: "Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect."

The decision comes days after Ronaldo launched a blistering attack on the club in an interview with Piers Morgan, accusing United of betraying him by forcing him out of the club.

United thanked Ronaldo, 37, in its statement and said the club was focused on working together.

"The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future," it said.

"Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team's progress under Erik ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch."

Ronaldo said: "Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early.

"I love Manchester United and I love the fans, that will never ever change.

"However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge.

"I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future."

Since the interview last week, United's lawyers had reportedly been looking at ways to bring Ronaldo's time at the club to an end.

Ronaldo has been a regular on the bench this season, scoring three goals in 16 appearances.

In the interview with Morgan on TalkTV, Ronaldo also said he had "no respect" for boss Erik ten Hag, and alleged two senior figures at Old Trafford treated him with suspicion when he said his daughter Bella was sick with bronchitis, three months after her twin brother died.

Departure 'inevitable'

Rob Harris, Sky's sports correspondent, said his departure was "inevitable" after the interview.

"Once Cristiano Ronaldo gave that interview last week saying he felt betrayed by Manchester United, as well as criticising the club, the standards of coaching, and the methodology and the fabric of the club, it looked like his time at Manchester United was coming to an end," Harris said.

"This is the end of his second period at the club. He'd barely been there a year or so. United thought he was heading to Manchester City when they signed him a year ago. They managed to convince him. Sir Alex Ferguson, the former manager, managed to convince him not to go to their arch-rivals, but it has been a souring of relations."

He also pointed out that Ronaldo has not had "the same impact" as before.

"He had not been a significant part of this season. Only one goal was scored and he'd even left some games early - which led to him one point being banished from the team for a while."

Ronaldo is now on international duty with Portugal in Qatar, focusing on the start of their World Cup campaign on Thursday against Ghana.

He will not be looking for a new club immediately, according to Harris.

Manchester United was understood to be "extremely disappointed" with Ronaldo's interview with Morgan and initially said it would be "considering its response" to the interview.

Ronaldo claims he's 'bullet-proof'

The Portugal star had a defiant response to criticism of his comments after his arrival in Qatar, telling a news conference: "I am bullet-proof, I wear an iron suit.

"From your side, it is easy to look at how we can choose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies. I don't have to worry about what others think."

He also insisted that the awkward handshake between him and his teammate Bruno Fernandes after the interview was actually a joke between the teammates.

'Legendary status'

Former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand weighed on Ronaldo's departure, saying he believes his controversial exit from Old Trafford will not detract from his legacy at the club.

He believes the Portuguese star got the result he wanted from his interview with Piers Morgan, and still deserves to be remembered fondly by fans.

"I don't think this affects or detracts from Cristiano Ronaldo's legacy at the football club - what he's achieved, his legendary status, I believe doesn't change," the sports pundit told his Youtube channel.

"The measure of what he was when he was in the red shirt, playing football, and the amount of successful moments and trophies that he brought to the club when he was here, becoming the best player in the world when he was at Manchester United - these things you cannot erase from history."