Bruno Fernandes has been grilled by the media about Portugal teammate Cristiano Ronaldo's hasty departure from Manchester United.
Ronaldo mutually agreed to terminate his contract with United after an explosive interview with Piers Morgan saw the 37-year-old criticise the club's owners, players and manager among many other things.
United responded by exploring all legal avenues open to them, but reached an agreement with Ronaldo late on Tuesday to terminate his employment.
The bombshell interview with Ronaldo had led to what many felt was a frosty greeting from Fernandes upon arriving at the World Cup with Portugal, although that was simply put down to a joke told between the pair.
Now, Fernandes, standing in for Ronaldo on media duties, has said he doesn't feel uncomfortable to play alongside his captain given what's happened at Old Trafford, and that he respects the decision taken by his now former teammate at club level.
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“I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t have to pick a side. It was a privilege to play in the national team with Ronaldo and at the club it was a dream come true and I have always said that," Fernandes said.
“Cristiano has always been an inspiration for me. It was a dream but we know nothing lasts forever. And now Cristiano took a decision for his life and his career and we have to respect every decision.”
Portugal open their World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday afternoon, with both Ronaldo and Fernandes expected to be in the starting XI.
Attention after the World Cup will then switch to finding a new club for Ronaldo, though 90min understands that the Premier League's richest club, Newcastle United, will not be one of the clubs making him an offer.
In any event, Ronaldo has been fined £50,000 and handed a two-game suspension by the Football Association for slapping a mobile phone out of a young supporter's hand at Everton last April.