Portugal coach Fernando Santos has suggested that Cristiano Ronaldo has not played enough for Manchester United in recent weeks and risks losing match sharpness.
Ronaldo re-joined United at the end of the summer transfer window, 12 years after he left the club in 2009, and played 90 minutes in three consecutive Premier League games throughout September. He also started twice in the Champions League, completing 90 minutes against Villarreal at the end of last month.
But because the 36-year-old was surprisingly left on the bench and only appeared as a substitute against Everton in his club’s most recent game earlier this month, Santos has claimed he has lacked meaningful intensity this month, which could affect his level of performance.
As a result, the Portugal coach wants Ronaldo involved in the national team’s friendly against Qatar on Saturday night, ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.
“[Ronaldo] will go to the [Qatar] game because he needs playing time. It's important to him at this stage,” Santos is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“The last full game he played was in the Champions League,” the coach added, referring to the Villarreal game on 29 September, which was still less than two weeks ago.
“If he only plays against Luxembourg, he will have practically 15 days without playing with intensity.
“At this point I will say that there are strong possibilities of Ronaldo going to the game against Qatar, either starting or coming on later during the second half, so that the competitive rhythms are at their maximum against Luxembourg.”