Ronaldo Nazario ranks himself alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona as part of a "very special group" of football's greatest ever players. 

Legendary forward Ronaldo led Brazil to their most recent World Cup triumph 20 years ago, scoring eight goals as Luiz Felipe Scolari's team sealed the country's fifth title in Japan and South Korea.

No Brazilian has ever bettered Ronaldo's tally at a single edition of the tournament, while his total return of 15 World Cup goals has only been beaten by Germany's Miroslav Klose (16).  

While Ronaldo believes his exploits put him in the pantheon of footballing greats, he told the Guardian it was difficult to compare his abilities to those of players from different generations.

Asked to choose between seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and another Argentina icon in Maradona, Ronaldo said: "That's unfair! 

"I think there is a very, very special group where you have Diego, Messi, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, Pele, [Marco] Van Basten, Ronaldinho. I would include myself. 


"Let the fans say, let them debate it in the bars. But you can't rank them, can't compare generations. 

"People call me the 'original' Ronaldo but there were others – and they weren't false. 

"I'm not the only one, and more will come along and be better than me in everything. I did what I could, the best I could."

Brazil's hopes of repeating their 2002 World Cup win will depend largely on the form of Neymar, who has been involved in 42 per cent of the Selecao's World Cup goals since making his tournament debut in 2014 (8/19 – six goals, two assists).

Ronaldo compared the abilities of the Paris Saint-Germain forward to those of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting no football fan could fail to enjoy watching him play. 

"People love him a lot," Ronaldo added of Neymar. "If we talk specifically about football, I doubt there's anyone who doesn't love him. His private life transcends football, but I'm not interested. 

"He's daring, has skill, variety, is quick, scores goals, has personality. You could compare him to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, even though they are from a different planet. 

"On the pitch Neymar is one [thing], then people mix in all the other stuff."


Cristiano Ronaldo remains "an important part" of Erik ten Hag's plans at Manchester United and the Dutchman hopes he can "count on him" through the rest of the season.

The forward is absent for Saturday's Premier League clash against Chelsea after he was dropped for disciplinary reasons following his refusal to come on as a substitute during Wednesday's 2-0 win over Tottenham.

Ronaldo left the game early, heading down the Old Trafford tunnel before the final whistle, echoing his pre-season actions when he departed a friendly with Rayo Vallecano before the end.

Speaking ahead of his side's trip to the Blues, Ten Hag stressed it would be a one-and-done sanction for the Portugal forward and that he believes he can rely on the veteran across the remainder of the campaign.

"It is for this game and then we continue," he stated.. "I am open to that. For me, it is a strike.

"What we said in the statement is that Cristiano remains an important part of the squad and I count on him for the rest of the season. We want to fulfil our ambitions.

"What I said is I don't want to miss him. I want him to be in the squad and be involved for every game because he has an impact."

However, Ten Hag felt Ronaldo must accept the consequence of his actions, regardless of his standing within the sport.

"He has to be aware that you get justified [judged] by the moment and how you are acting today," he added.

"In top sport, it is about today -- it is not about age or reputation. When you have top sport, you get justified and judged by the moment and how you act.

"That is normal. Everyone has to be aware of it and not just Cristiano. We have to be aware of it as a team, a manager and a club."


Graham Potter acknowledged that difficult decisions are part of management following Erik ten Hag's handling of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.

Ten Hag has forced Ronaldo to train away from the first team after the Portugal international took himself down the tunnel at Old Trafford before the end of United's 2-0 win against Tottenham on Wednesday.

Ronaldo will not be in the squad for United's trip to Chelsea on Saturday following his manager's statement after the Spurs game that he would "deal with" the player's behaviour.

"I can't really comment because I don't know the ins and outs but he's taken his stance, sometimes you have to do that. Then you need the club's support. From the outside, that's what's happened," Blues head coach Potter said at a press conference on Friday.

"It's difficult for me to comment... Part of the job is to take some decisions that are difficult, but that's normal."

Since losing their first two games, including an opening day defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion when Potter was still in charge of the Seagulls, United have lost just once in eight Premier League games (6-3 at Manchester City), winning six of them.

The victory against Spurs was arguably the Red Devils' best performance so far under Ten Hag since his arrival at the end of last season, and Potter believes they will only get better.

"I think they've done well," he said. "Obviously not had a great start from their perspective, but they've battled back and they're getting points and they're playing well, so it's going to be a tough game.

"They've changed a bit in how they build up I think. More longer balls, more direct, at the same time they still have the same quality, they've got the likes of [Marcus] Rashford, Antony, [Jadon] Sancho, Bruno Fernandes plays a key role for them.

"They just seem to have adapted to the competition, adapted to each other, probably learning more about each other. It's a normal process really... I'm pretty sure they'll get better and better as time goes on."

Chelsea are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions since Potter took over from Thomas Tuchel (five wins), but have suffered recent injury blows with the news that N'Golo Kante will be out for around four months, missing the World Cup, while Reece James faces a race against time to be in Qatar and will be absent for the next few weeks.

"You have to at least acknowledge the fact they're human beings that want to be involved in that type of competition," Potter added. "The reality is I haven't got anything to say that'll make it any better for them.

"You just have to focus on the things you can control, focus on your rehab day-to-day, things get better and then you just move forward."

Erik ten Hag has ordered Manchester United's players to ignore the Cristiano Ronaldo saga and keep their focus on beating Chelsea.

The United manager had to call a meeting with Ronaldo on Thursday after the veteran striker showed an errant side to his nature in the previous night's game against Tottenham.

By refusing to play as a substitute, according to Ten Hag, and leaving the stadium early, Ronaldo secured himself a weekend off.

He has been temporarily ostracised from the first team by United's Dutch boss, who made it clear he will not stand for any disruptive behaviour from the superstar, or from any member of his squad.

So Ronaldo will stay at home as United head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, disciplined and with plenty of atoning to do.

That was inevitably the hot topic of discussion at United's pre-match press conference on Friday, and Ten Hag said: "I understand there are questions about that, but at the same time it's all about Chelsea. We have a big game to play, so all my focus is on that game."

He said that applied for all United's staff and players, adding: "We have to win that game and do everything we can. We need to prepare for that game and do our best.

"I think it's part of when you play in top football that sometimes there's rumours, there's noise, and you don't get deflected, you have to focus on the job and that is to perform tomorrow."

Ronaldo's antics took some attention off United's excellent 2-0 win over Spurs, as polished a performance as they have produced under Ten Hag, with Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Casemiro outstanding in midfield.

The focus on Ronaldo may turn out not to be such a negative in the long run. Rather than the performance be followed by days of hype about a United resurgence, attention has been focused elsewhere.

United's players – those who were happy to face Tottenham – have quietly gone about their business and will be looking for a repeat of the high level they showed at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have not lost any of their last nine Premier League games against Chelsea (D6 W3) – only against Blackburn Rovers (12 games between 1992 and 1998) and Arsenal (19 between 1995 and 2005) have Chelsea ever endured a longer winless run in the competition. United have won just two of their last 20 at Chelsea in the league, however.

But there is perhaps a complicating factor for this game, in that Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has already chalked up a league win over United this season.

That came when Potter was bossing Brighton and Hove Albion, who inflicted an opening-day 2-1 defeat on Ten Hag's United at Old Trafford.

Since recruited by Chelsea to replace Thomas Tuchel, Potter will fancy the job again, given his strong start to life with the Blues.

He could become just the second manager in history to beat United with two different teams in a single league campaign, according to Opta, after Andy Aitken in 1908-09, with Middlesbrough and Leicester.

Ten Hag was keen to play down the Potter effect, saying: "We feel strong and we're looking forward to the game tomorrow. It's a different game, different team, he has different players.

"We are further in the process. Of course, I know more about him. The first time, maybe he knew more about me. That is maybe an advantage because he knew more about Manchester United in the first game.

"Now I'm longer in the UK, in the Premier League, so tomorrow will be a good fight; but it's not a fight between managers, it's a fight between teams."

After a run of seven consecutive away defeats, United have won three of their last four on the road in the Premier League. Their most recent away win was a 2-1 success at Everton, where the decisive second goal came, of course, from Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo can still have a Manchester United future but had to be punished for refusing to play as a substitute against Tottenham, Erik ten Hag said.

Manager Ten Hag held talks with Ronaldo on Thursday after his breaches of discipline in the Spurs game, which included disappearing down the tunnel before the game was finished.

The Dutch boss confirmed Ronaldo rejected his instruction to come off the bench on Wednesday, an action which has led to doubts over whether the 37-year-old Portuguese would play for United again.

Ronaldo blamed "the heat of the moment" for his actions in a post on Instagram on Thursday, which notably did not include an apology.

He has been pushed away from first-team duties for now and will play no part in Saturday's Premier League game at Chelsea, with Ten Hag saying it was time for "reflection" on Ronaldo's part.

Asked about his discussion with Ronaldo, Ten Hag said on Friday: "The talk, if you ask about that, it's between Cristiano and me. It was 10 minutes."

As for whether Ronaldo can be a part of United's team in the future, Ten Hag said: "Yes. He remains an important part of the squad."

He then confirmed the reports Ronaldo disobeyed his orders to play as a substitute in United's 2-0 victory, which may be considered a much more serious infraction than leaving the stadium early.

Ten Hag stressed he would rule with a firm hand when required.

"I'm the manager, I'm responsible for the top sport culture here, and I have to set standards and failures and I have to control them," Ten Hag said.

This was Ronaldo's second early walkout from a game during Ten Hag's reign, having also left the ground before full-time in a pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano, when he played the first half but then departed Old Trafford.

"After Rayo Vallecano I told them it was unacceptable, but he wasn't the only one," Ten Hag said. "That is for everyone, so the second time there will be consequences and that is what we did.

"We miss him tomorrow, and that is a miss for us, for the squad. But I think it's important for the attitude, for the mentality, from the group. Now we have to focus on Chelsea, that is the most important."

Asked what his actions might achieve, as Ronaldo trained away from United team-mates on Friday, Ten Hag said: "I think reflection for him, but also for everyone else."

Reports have suggested Ronaldo will be fined two weeks' wages by United.

Ten Hag said: "I set a warning at the start of the season and the next time there has to be consequence. When you're living together, playing together – and football's a team sport – you have to fulfil certain standards and I have to control it."

Manchester United have reached the end of their tether with Cristiano Ronaldo and want the superstar out of the club as soon as January, reports say.

The apparent refusal by Ronaldo to come on as a substitute against Tottenham on Wednesday, before flouncing off before the final whistle, has led to the striker being barred from playing any part in this weekend's Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Now Ronaldo may have played his last game for the club, unless bridges can be rebuilt.


Ronaldo's last visible matchday act as a Manchester United player could turn out to be the moment he walked down the tunnel before the final whistle blew in the Spurs game.

That act looks to have been one of rebellion, with widespread reports now stating Ronaldo had declined to come off the bench late in the game.

According to the i newspaper and The Sun, among others, United boss Erik ten Hag has decided enough is enough and the time has come to part ways with the 37-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Ronaldo's performances in his second United stint have been mixed, and amid diminishing returns Ten Hag is said to want Ronaldo moved on to another club in January, or for his contract to be terminated. Ronaldo's deal runs to the end of this season.

There appeared to be a dearth of suitors during the last transfer window when Ronaldo looked keen on a move, so arranging a transfer for the former Real Madrid star may not be straightforward, unless of course he excels with Portugal at the World Cup.


- Ruben Neves has unfinished business at Porto and the 25-year-old Wolves midfielder has revealed he wants to return to the Primeira Liga giants while still in his prime years. He left at the age of 20 to join his current club. Portugal international Neves told Canal 11: "Returning to FC Porto is something I really want to happen, but it's impossible to say when. I hope I'm in the best conditions and that they still want me. I don't know how I'll be in a few years, but my goal is not to go to FC Porto to finish my career, but to win titles. I was there for three years and I didn't win."

- Andriy Lunin has shown himself to be a handy deputy for Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal, but will he stay at Santiago Bernabeu? Mundo Deportivo says the Ukrainian goalkeeper could leave before the end of his contract, which runs to 2024, if he becomes frustrated with life on the bench, with the newspaper suggesting Madrid would not stand in his way.

Lazio are said to be looking for back-up for Ciro Immobile, their experienced Italy striker, and have reportedly got their eye on two Spain-based forwards. According to Corriere dello Sport, the players being eyed by Maurizio Sarri are Elche's Argentine frontman Lucas Boye and Sevilla's Spaniard Rafa Mir.

Cristiano Ronaldo acknowledged "the heat of the moment" got the better of him during his early walkout from Manchester United's win over Tottenham, pledging to be "ready for everything" after being dropped by the Red Devils.

United produced one of their best performances under Erik ten Hag during Wednesday's 2-0 win over Spurs, but the victory was overshadowed by Ronaldo walking down the tunnel before the final whistle.

Ten Hag said after the game that he would "deal with" Ronaldo's behaviour on Thursday, and the Dutchman followed through on that vow by sanctioning the 37-year-old.

On Thursday, United announced Ronaldo will play no part in Saturday's Premier League trip to Chelsea, with media reports even suggesting he refused to come on as a substitute against Spurs.

Ronaldo responded to the incident on his official Instagram account, insisting his attitude has not changed.

"As I've always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches," Ronaldo wrote. "That hasn't changed. I haven't changed. 

"I'm the same person and the same professional that I've been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision-making process.

"I started very young, the older and most experienced players' examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I've always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I've represented. 

"Unfortunately, that's not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.

"Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my team-mates and be ready for everything in any given game. 

"Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United and united we must stand. Soon we'll be together again."

Ronaldo has only started two of United's 10 Premier League games this season, scoring just one goal in the competition after slipping below Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in the pecking order.

The Portugal captain reportedly asked to leave United following their failure to secure a top-four finish last season but saw several rumoured suitors – including Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich – rule out signing him. 

Cristiano Ronaldo will be omitted from the Manchester United squad to face Chelsea on Saturday following his early walkout during Wednesday's win over Tottenham.

The veteran forward, an unused substitute, walked down the tunnel before the final whistle at Old Trafford as Erik ten Hag's side downed Spurs in a 2-0 win.

Ten Hag said after the game that he would "deal with" Ronaldo's behaviour on Thursday, and the Dutchman has followed through on that by sanctioning the 37-year-old.

The Portugal captain will play no part in his side's next fixture away to Graham Potter's Blues.

"Cristiano Ronaldo will not be part of the Manchester United squad for this Saturday's Premier League game against Chelsea," read an official club statement.

"The rest of the squad is fully focused on preparing for that fixture."

It is the latest indicator of Ronaldo's discontent at Old Trafford, with a much-trumpeted homecoming last season having turned sour following a disappointing 2021-22 club campaign.

Ronaldo was United's top scorer last term with 24 goals across all competitions, but the Red Devils could only finish sixth in the Premier League.

That led to speculation suggesting Ronaldo wanted to leave the club, a narrative that ultimately became a distracting sideshow through Ten Hag's first pre-season in charge.

Ronaldo did not join United on their pre-season tour of Australia and Thailand.

When he did eventually feature in a friendly against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford, Ronaldo found himself at the centre of controversy as he left the stadium early after being withdrawn at half-time.

Ten Hag defended Ronaldo on that occasion, saying it was "not right" for the striker to attract all the criticism when there were several players who left early.

However, Thursday's action shows Ten Hag is willing to come down hard on the Portuguese superstar, and the situation will further cloud Ronaldo's future at the club.

The arrival of Ten Hag has seen Ronaldo slip down the pecking order, with just two Premier League starts and one goal this season across eight top-flight appearances.

United travel to Stamford Bridge sitting just one point behind their hosts in fourth.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be omitted from the Manchester United squad to face Chelsea on Saturday following his early walkout during Wednesday's win over Tottenham.

Erik ten Hag should offload Cristiano Ronaldo in January if the Portugal striker is not part of his Manchester United plans, Rio Ferdinand has said.

According to former United captain Ferdinand, the stature of Ronaldo means that even as a fringe first-team figure, his presence will loom large.

Ferdinand was reacting to Ronaldo walking away from the United bench early on Wednesday and heading down the tunnel before the end of the game against Tottenham.

That was an issue Ten Hag refused to address after the 2-0 Premier League win at Old Trafford, saying it was a matter to resolve on Thursday. The Athletic reported Ronaldo left the stadium soon after his walk-off.

Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel: "My only thought could be that Cristiano's being saved for the weekend against Chelsea.

"That's the only way I see it, logically, that he didn't play today. I think Ronaldo will be absolutely fuming with that, naturally. I wouldn't expect anything different from him."

Ferdinand has urged manager Ten Hag to think diligently about how he handles the Ronaldo situation, given the attention that is given to the 37-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Marcus Rashford started as United's principal attacker against Spurs and had an impressive game, with United scampering with intent and pressing impressively against Spurs.

It was a game where Ronaldo's presence was not missed, until the moment he grabbed the attention by casually strolling out of sight.

His contract runs to the end of the season, and Ferdinand said: "I think the big problem Erik ten Hag's got is, coming up to this window, he needs to think very carefully about what he does.

"if he doesn't see Cristiano Ronaldo as a starter in his team more often than not, I think he has to release him from his contract, let him go."

Ronaldo embarked on a second spell at United last season, having previously starred for the club prior to an £80million switch to Real Madrid in 2009.

Ferdinand said it was "not fair on anybody" for Ronaldo to always be central to the United narrative if he does not start games.

"You think why did Manchester United not let him go, if Erik ten Hag kind of knew he wasn't going to be part of his main plan," Ferdinand said. "The manager surely would have known before the season started.

"It's going to be something that probably hampers him, the manager, going forward until the day Cristiano leaves the football club, because of how big he is, because of how much of an icon, how much of a superstar, he is."

Cristiano Ronaldo must have had good reason for walking away from Manchester United's 2-0 triumph over Tottenham on Wednesday, claims former team-mate Nani.

An excellent performance from United saw them dominate Spurs at Old Trafford, as a deflected Fred strike and a sublime finish from Bruno Fernandes gave them an important victory over a top-four rival.

However, unused substitute Ronaldo headed along the touchline and down the tunnel before the final whistle blew. According to a report in the Athletic, the 37-year-old went on to leave the stadium early too, instead of celebrating with team-mates.

Despite his side's superb display, United manager Erik ten Hag was forced to field questions over Ronaldo's premature exit after the game, telling Amazon Prime he would "deal with" the matter on Thursday.

Nani, who played with Ronaldo for United as well as Portugal, defended his former team-mate before suggesting Ronaldo likely had valid reasons for his early departure.

"I don't know what happened in that moment," Nani exclusively told Stats Perform. "Maybe he had to go to the bathroom.

"Everyone knows he is a professional, very big professional."

Nani, now playing in Australia's A-League for Melbourne Victory, did not watch United's game against Tottenham, but he knows how being an unused substitute would feel for Ronaldo, and he suggested the early walk-off was not as significant as some have made out.

"He works really hard to be on the field. Maybe [there can] probably be a little bit of frustration there on not being an option to play," Nani said.

"But this is his desire, to be on the field and play. But I think it's not a big deal because there is a reason probably."

Cristiano Ronaldo displayed "unacceptable" behaviour by walking off as Manchester United were putting the finishing touches to a victory over Tottenham, according to Gary Lineker.

The Portugal great, who was an unused substitute in Wednesday night's game at Old Trafford, walked along the touchline and down the tunnel before full-time.

According to a report in The Athletic, Ronaldo kept going and immediately left the stadium, rather than celebrate with team-mates after what was arguably the team's best performance of the season.

United were excellent as they secured a sixth Premier League win of the season to go fifth in the table, thriving without having to call on the 37-year-old Ronaldo.

The fixture was one in which Ronaldo hit a hat-trick last season, but he was a spare part in United's 2-0 win this week, only for the early exit to draw attention to himself again.

United manager Erik ten Hag said he would "deal with" the matter on Thursday.

Former Tottenham and Barcelona striker Lineker, presenting the BBC's Match of the Day programme, suggested Ronaldo had overstepped the mark.

"Cristiano Ronaldo: now we all know what a great player he's been and stuff like that, but walking off the pitch as a substitute with two minutes to go, before the game is finished, I'm sorry, but that's unacceptable. That's poor, isn't it?" Lineker said.

Pundit Micah Richards, a former Manchester City defender, agreed Ronaldo was out of order.

"It's so poor," said Richards. "For someone we've looked up to for so long, one of the greats of the game, to do that when your team are winning, making it about him, it's unacceptable."

United were terrific in front of their home fans, racking up 28 shots to Tottenham's nine, with goals coming from Fred in the 47th minute and Bruno Fernandes in the 69th. Their defence was also impressively stout, allowing Tottenham to only accumulate 0.48 expected goals.

Speaking to Amazon Prime after the contest, Ten Hag said dealing with Ronaldo was a problem for another day.

"I will deal with [Ronaldo] tomorrow, not today," he said. "Today we celebrate this victory, and now we have to recover from this."

Ten Hag said in a subsequent press conference that he chose Marcus Rashford rather than Ronaldo because of the England forward's pressing qualities.

"What we needed was we needed good pressing, you need a good counter-press, because from there you can create chances," Ten Hag said.

"Offensive-wise you need dynamic, so that is what Marcus can give you in a game."

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will deal with Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday, but kept his immediate post-match focus on what he felt was his side's most complete performance under his watch in their 2-0 victory against Tottenham.

United were terrific in front of their home fans, racking up 28 shots to Tottenham's nine, with goals coming from Fred in the 47th minute and Bruno Fernandes in the 69th. Their defence was also impressively stout, allowing Tottenham to only accumulate 0.48 expected goals.

In the final minutes, with United defending their lead, Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines by making his way down the tunnel early, clearly unhappy about his lack of involvement as an unused substitute.

Speaking to Amazon Prime after the contest, Ten Hag said dealing with Ronaldo was a problem for another day, and that he would spend Wednesday night celebrating a complete performance.

"I will deal with [Ronaldo] tomorrow, not today," he said. "Today we celebrate this victory, and now we have to recover from this.

"I knew [form] would come with [Fernandes]. Sometimes you have periods as a striker or offensive player and you don't score, but all of a sudden you find it back. I think for Bruno it's important he scored a goal, but once again I think he played a magnificent role today.

"There were so many things that were really good – our organisation, our pressing organisation was fabulous, magnificent – also I think the rest of the defence and the counter press was really good. 

"To be fair, I didn't expect it before [the game] because Spurs have played really good this season, and they play really solid – every performance is dead good. I thought we had to be really good to win, and we did. It was a magnificent performance and I hope we set a new base.

"From start to end we dictated the game, and that is what we didn't do against Liverpool and Arsenal. I want to mention that we had more good performances this season, but you see the development in the process and I'm clearly pleased with that."

The result sees United rise to fifth on the table with an even goal difference, and they will look to carry that momentum into a massive fixture at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea on Saturday.

Karim Benzema "learned a lot" from Cristiano Ronaldo but was also "overshadowed" by his former Real Madrid team-mate, the 2022 Ballon d'Or winner's academy coach told Stats Perform.

Madrid captain Benzema was named the world's best footballer by France Football for the first time in Paris on Monday.

The France forward was a deserving winner, having been Madrid's outstanding performer in scoring 44 goals in 2021-22 as they won LaLiga and the Champions League.

It was by far the most prolific campaign of Benzema's career, although his goalscoring form had already seen an upturn since Ronaldo's 2018 departure.

Benzema scored only 12 goals in 2017-18 as Ronaldo's final season at the Santiago Bernabeu ended with a fourth European crown alongside the former Lyon man. Benzema's fifth followed this year without Ronaldo.

Many might now wonder how Benzema's career could have panned out had he not joined Madrid in the same transfer window as Ronaldo back in 2009.

But Armand Garrido, an academy coach at Lyon between 1989 and 2019, pointed out to Stats Perform the ways in which Benzema also profited from playing with Ronaldo.

"Yes, the fact of playing with Cristiano Ronaldo, he was overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo," Garrido said in an exclusive interview. "But at the same time, yes, he learned a lot with Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He certainly learned how to work, how to train, how to keep a healthy lifestyle.

"Nowadays, there are other players like Cristiano Ronaldo, who are old compared to the kind of players we can be expecting at a very high level, and [Ronaldo] is still playing at top level.

"So, yes, Benzema learned a lot from Cristiano, but he was also overshadowed by Cristiano."

Benzema will now be remembered as a Madrid great, but Garrido added: "When he leaves to sign for Real Madrid, my first thought was that he's crazy; he chose the toughest club.

"Not [crazy] to join Real, of course, but maybe [it would be better] joining before another club superior to Olympique Lyonnais.

"We did not think that it was the best way to earn a place at Real Madrid, but when he does it, it is when we realise that he's a world-class player."

Erik ten Hag is not concerning himself about contract talks with key Manchester United players including Cristiano Ronaldo and is instead focused on performances on the pitch.

United have a host of players out of contract at the end of the season, although some have options in their existing deals for a further season.

Ronaldo is one of those, along with David de Gea and Marcus Rashford, but Diogo Dalot – who has started all nine Premier League matches at right-back this season – could be free to leave.

Those situations will need addressing, but Ten Hag is happy to park them for now.

"At this moment we only think about performing," the manager said. "We have a lot of games to go, so I don't want to get that interfered by talks.

"We have to focus on football and performances, not on negotiating."

The future of De Gea, like that of Ronaldo, has regularly been the subject of speculation, but he remains United's first choice.

Neither Martin Dubravka nor Tom Heaton have provided a genuine threat to De Gea this season, although Dean Henderson is only out on loan.

Ten Hag added: "We didn't make a decision on him, but what I can say is that I am really happy with David de Gea.

"His first two performances of the season were not his best, but after he brings us a lot for the defensive department, he gives stability and as a person I like him.

"But first we go to the winter, and then we will talk about how to deal with the situations."

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