Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s World Cup warm-up game against Nigeria due to illness, according to head coach Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo, 37, has been the talk of the footballing world ahead of the tournament in Qatar following his explosive interview in which he said he felt “betrayed” by Manchester United.
He jetted out to Portugal soon after the interview was released and appeared to get a frosty welcome at the training ground from United team-mate Bruno Fernandes.
Portugal continue their World Cup preparations with a friendly game against Nigeria on Thursday, November 17, but Ronaldo will not take part.
“He will not be ready for tomorrow,” said Santos.
“He’s losing a lot of liquid, he’s suffering from gastroenteritis and he isn’t training. He’s in his room resting and recovering, I’m 100 per cent sure he won’t be available.”
Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer in international men’s football with 117 goals.
At the age of 37 this looks set to be his final chance to win the World Cup.
Santos says Ronaldo’s interview will not be a distraction for Portugal.
“This issue isn’t related to us, it isn’t related to the national team.
“The man, the player, decided to give an interview, like other athletes and men decide to do to discuss personal matters.
“This doesn’t spill out to the national team, as far as I know, he didn’t talk about the national team, so it’s a personal interview which we need to respect.
“These days tolerance is a buzz word and we need to respect what others think and say, provided it doesn’t impact what I do.
“None of my players have made a comment regarding the interview, at all.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a free man. The buzz and discussion [around him] is taking place outside the national team. It doesn’t impact us.
“It’s a fact he’s suffering from gastroenteritis. Any player will struggle if you’re suffering from that. He’s not ready to play.”
Santos has enjoyed great success with Portugal, leading them to victory at Euro 2016 and the Nations League in 2019.
Asked if he has ever been forced to play Ronaldo, Santos said: “Forced? This is not about forcing me.
“This is not a requirement. No one is forced to do anything here. The question could be, you could ask me, based on what Cristiano Ronaldo did [in recent weeks on the pitch] should he start?
“This is valid for Cristiano Ronaldo and all the players who are with the national team. If the head coach is forced to put a player in the XI…there aren’t those things here.”
Portugal play their first game against Ghana on November 24.