REVEALED: Cristiano Ronaldo causing MORE friction in Portugal’s World Cup camp, with team-mates ‘questioning why his personal manager – who has excessive influence – is part of their entourage’
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s team-mates are wary of his personal manager’s presence
- Ricky Regufe has worked with Ronaldo since 2018 and has joined him in Qatar
- But some players have questioned why Regufe is in their World Cup camp
- Ronaldo hit back at reports he wanted to fly home after his axe from the line-up
- The forward has come under fire in Qatar over performance and attitude issues
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
Cristiano Ronaldo’s friction with Portugal has grown even more tense with his team-mates reportedly questioning why his personal manager – Ricky Regufe – has formed part of their entourage at the World Cup.
Ronaldo has found himself under fire in Qatar after his poor personal performance for his country before sulking after being subbed off during a 2-1 loss to South Korea in the group stages – which earned the wrath of his manager Fernando Santos.
He is then said to have threatened to quit their World Cup camp when he learned he would be benched for the last-16 clash against Switzerland – claims Portugal deny – which saw his replacement Goncalo Ramos netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 win.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal team-mates are reportedly growing uneasy about the presence of his personal manager Ricky Regufe
Regufe – second left – has been a close associate of the legendary forward’s since 2018
Regufe started off as a marketing chief for Nike before forging a friendship with Ronaldo
Ronaldo is also reported to have failed to train with the substitutes from that game and instead undergone a low-intensity session with the starters – despite only coming on for 20 minutes.
Now – in further damanging reports about Ronaldo’s rift with the squad – Portuguese outlet Record claim that the team are growing uneasy about the presence of Regufe, who is believed to have ‘excessive influence’ after becoming Ronaldo’s personal manager in 2018.
A number of players ‘do not understand the reason’ for him joining up with the squad, with Regufe said to be sharing spaces designated for players, with some questioning why he is always in close proximity with the team – including during match-days.
The 37-year-old is often seen alongside Regufe on holidays and at events and football games
Another reason for their frustration, the report goes on, is that no other players have been permitted to take guests with them to Portugal’s World Cup camp.
Regufe was formerly a leading marketing manager for Nike and was a big influence in ensuring Ronaldo formed close ties with the sportswear giant following their meeting in 2003 when the player was at Sporting Lisbon – convincing him to sign a boot deal with them.
He would become a huge part of the furniture around Ronaldo’s life and has often been pictured at dinner parties, luxury holidays and awards ceremonies with the iconic footballer.
Notably he was seen pitchside at the Euro 2016 – which Portugal won against France – as he embraced Ronaldo on the turf after the team secured the trophy.
Ronaldo has endured a turbulent camp at the World Cup and has irked his manager Fernando Santos over his attitude
Ronaldo has scored just once at the World Cup and has found himself under fire from fans
TV pictures showed the pair collapsing to the ground in each other’s arms, Ronaldo in floods of tears.
The latest development with Ronaldo on World Cup duty comes after he was forced to speak out following claims he wanted to pack his bags and leave Qatar when he was left out of Portugal’s line-up for the Switzerland game.
Ronaldo posted a Tweet on Thursday insisting the squad would not be influenced by ‘outside forces’ and said they were ‘strong and brave’.
‘A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary.
‘A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Strength, Portugal!’
The Portugal FA also denied the claims, saying in a statement that Ronaldo ‘builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected and which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.’
Ronaldo has been unable to hide his frustrations in Qatar amid his difficult season so far
However, Ronaldo’s behaviour has not gone done well in the Portugal camp after his poor reaction to being subbed off against South Korea last month – something Santos said he ‘really didn’t like’.
‘If I see the images, yes, I didn’t like it, not at all. I really didn’t like it,’ Santos said.
‘Everything is finished, full stop, regarding that issue and now we have to think about the match and everyone is focused on the match.
‘I only decide who is going to be the captain when I reach the stadium so I don’t know the line-up.
‘That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I’m always going to do. It’s going to be the same with this match.’
Ronaldo was then dropped for the win over Switzerland and then found himself in the headlines once again after he trudged off the pitch alone and cutting an isolated figure while the rest of his team-mates were celebrating.
But he sought to quash any fears of a rift by praising the team and Santos after the full time whistle.
‘Amazing day for Portugal, with a historic result in the biggest event in world football,’ he wrote.
‘Luxury display of a team full of talent and youth. Our Selection is to be congratulated. The dream is alive! To the end! Go ahead, Portugal!’
Ronaldo is expected to be on the bench when Portugal take on Morocco in the quarter-final tie on Saturday.
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