Portugal’s record appearance maker and goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of the Portugal squad for the upcoming Nations League and friendly matches at his own request.
“After a conversation I had with the player, who had just signed with Juventus, I decided, given the process of adaptation he needed, that he would not be with us during this window,” Santos said.
Ronaldo has won 154 caps for his country, 27 more than the great Luis Figo, while his 85 goals is 38 more than former striker Pauleta.
He has scored at least 40 goals a season in the last eight seasons at Madrid but has yet to score for his new club.
Portugal, who were knocked out of the World Cup in the last 16 by Uruguay, host World Cup finalists Croatia in a friendly in Faro on Thursday.
They then host Italy on September 10 for their first match in the new Nations League, a format UEFA hopes will give a new edge to matches that were previously friendlies.
Just 13 of the 24 Portuguese players selected for the Nations League were at the World Cup in Russia earlier this summer, including forwards Bernardo Silva of Manchester City, Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva.
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Wolverhampton), Beto (Goztepe), Claudio Ramos (Tondela)
Defenders: Cedric Soares (Southampton), Joao Cancelo (Juventus), Luis Neto (Zenit St Petersburg), Mario Rui (Napoli), Pedro Mendes (Montpellier), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ruben Dias (Benfica)
Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Gedson Fernandes (Benfica), Pizzi (Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton), Sergio Oliveira (FC Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis)
Forwards: Andre Silva (Sevilla), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruma (RB Leipzig), Gelson Martins (Atletico Madrid), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Rony Lopes (Monaco)
The 33-year-old Portuguese icon enjoyed nine prolific seasons at the Bernabeu, becoming the Whites’ all-time top goalscorer with 450 goals in 438 matches.
His last act was helping Los Blancos to win a third consecutive Champions League triumph, before he followed Zinedine Zidane out of the exit door.
But, according to Ronaldo – who notched 104 goals in 177 appearances across five seasons for the Whites – it was the best move for all parties.
“There is no doubt what he wanted. He was looking for a change and he has every right to do so. Real Madrid will always be very grateful to Ronaldo, and I wish him luck in this adventure.”
And despite not having Ronaldo in the ranks this season, R9 – his sponsorship nickname during his playing days – still feels Los Blancos are favourites to win the European Cup again under Julen Lopetegui, despite CR7’s absence.
“No, no, I still see them as the favourites, Real have won four of the last five Champions Leagues,” he added. “He (Cristiano) was an important player, but it will always be Real Madrid that dominates this competition. Barcelona are the other favourites and Atletico have improved.”
The 33-year-old, who is Portugal’s captain and all-time top goalscorer, will reportedly miss a friendly against World Cup runners-up Croatia on September 6 and a Nationals League clash with Italy on September 10 to stay in Turin and assimilate with his new surroundings and team-mates, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
Although Juventus have been perfect through their first two games of the new Serie A season, Ronaldo has yet to find the back of the net for his new club, who he joined this summer from Real Madrid for €100 million.
Ronaldo is aiming to lead Juventus to an eighth straight league crown, as well as bettering their fortunes at the Champions League, where they’ve finished settled for second twice in the past four editions.