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‘He is still Cristiano to me’

‘He is still Cristiano to me’ thumbnail
Ben Southby

Manchester United starlet Anthony Elanga has come to the aid of teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after the forward’s critical comments about younger players.

Ronaldo covered a number of Manchester United-related topics in an explosive interview on TalkTV, including his relationship with manager Erik ten Hag and the behaviour of younger players.

Elanga, 20, defended his colleague’s comments while appreciating that football is very different for young players now compared to when Ronaldo was coming through the ranks.

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“Cristiano talks about young players in general,” Elanga told Swedish outlet Aftonbladet. “We are a new generation. I am always 100 percent focused on what I am doing, but I can understand what he is saying.

“There are a lot of phones and a lot of technology. It’s quite easy for young players to get distracted and lose focus. I always focus 100 percent on my job and what I do.

“Young players at United are listening, but I can understand what he is saying.”

Elanga made his debut for the Red Devils in May 2021 and has since made 42 appearances for the club.

The Swede admitted that he only knows “what others have heard” from the interview and that his view of Ronaldo remains healthy, as he sees the legendary forward as an “inspiration”, especially to young players.

“It is quite difficult,” he said when asked about Ronaldo’s interview.

“Everyone has their phones and I have friends in Manchester and in Sweden who want to find out what has happened. I don’t know that myself. I only know what others have heard. Hopefully I will find out the truth.

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“I try to switch off. But everyone is curious, my family is almost the worst, they always want to know. That’s how it is. I might be able to say more after I get back to the club team and find out what actually happened.

“He has helped me a lot not only on the pitch but off it as well. He is an inspiration, not only to me but to all the young players at United. Sometimes it’s just me and him at the gym.

“When I’m with him, he hasn’t changed. He is still Cristiano Ronaldo to me. He has helped me a lot,” he added.

Ronaldo is currently on World Cup duty in Qatar, but missed Portugal’s 4-0 warm-up win over Nigeria on Wednesday through illness.

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