‘Leave Ronaldo out’: Arsenal icon urges Portugal to drop Man Utd legend as it’s ‘the right way to go’

Jason Soutar
Cristiano Ronaldo should not start for Portugal at Euro 2024, says Paul Merson
Cristiano Ronaldo should not start for Portugal at Euro 2024, says Paul Merson

Arsenal hero Paul Merson thinks Portugal manager Roberto Martinez should bench Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2024.

Twenty years after making his European Championship debut, Ronaldo is preparing for Euro 2024 as Portugal enter as one of the favourites.

The 39-year-old won the continental tournament in 2016 despite their captain being stretchered off with a knee injury in the final against France. This injury was compared to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion by his sister because why the f**k not?

At the World Cup, Ronaldo was more of a hindrance than anything for Portugal as they were knocked out in the quarter-final by Morocco.

In fairness to the man, he was nowhere near sharp enough having fallen out of favour at Manchester United under new manager Erik ten Hag and had recently become a free agent.

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This time around, Ronaldo is bang in form, scoring goals for fun in Saudi Arabia.

And that is the problem; he is playing in Saudi Arabia.

This is according to former Arsenal midfielder Merson, who insists “playing at such a lesser standard in Saudi” should see Ronaldo dropped for this summer’s European Championships in Germany.

Listing Portugal as his fourth-favourite to win the competition, Merson says Ronaldo should not start the first two group stage matches and if qualification to the next stage is confirmed, manager Roberto Martinez should bring him in and take it from there.

Ronaldo should not start for Portugal at Euro 2024 – Merson

“Portugal are an aging team but they have a lot of experience within the squad,” he said.

“There’s too much individual quality for them not to gel together as a unit, so I think they’ll fare quite well at Euro 2024.

“With Pepe and Ruben Dias at the back, they are defensively strong and there is a lot of guile in midfield, while they are blessed with devastating pace and goals upfront.

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“Bruno Fernandes is a top-class footballer and should play a starring role for Portugal, while Cristiano Ronaldo is still with the squad despite entering the twilight years of his career.

“He’s still their captain and banging in the goals in Saudi Arabia, but I think they’ll see what he’s like in the camp and take a call on his selection.

“I would personally leave him out of the first two league games and get qualification sorted before bringing him back for the final encounter.

“If he plays well, he can keep his spot and that’s the right way to go about it as it’s a massive jump for someone to come into the European Championships after playing at such a lesser standard in Saudi.”

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