Cristiano Ronaldo's days at Manchester United appear to be numbered after his bust-up with team-mate Wayne Rooney in Portugal's World Cup quarter-final win over England on Saturday.
A move away from Old Trafford seems especially likely as the winger said after the game that media reports linking him to Real Madrid were correct.
"Yes, they are true," he told reporters when pressed, but said he would not discuss the matter further until after the World Cup where Portugal face France in Wednesday's semi-final.
Ronaldo had reportedly aligned himself with Juan Miguel Villar Mir, a candidate for Real's presidential election, saying he would open negotiations if Villar Mir won Sunday's vote.
He may find that he is no longer as welcome at Manchester United among the England players there after his involvement in the dismissal of Rooney in the second half.
Ronaldo rushed 40 metres to the referee, apparently to demand a card for the England forward who had battled his way through two Portuguese players and trod on Ricardo Carvalho's groin as he tried to disentangle himself.
Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo showed Rooney the red card, although it was not clear whether it was for the challenge on Carvalho or for pushing Ronaldo in anger afterwards.
He was captured by TV cameras winking at his bench as Rooney walked off the pitch.
"I complained to the referee about the foul but I didn't ask for a red card," said the Portugal winger.
Ronaldo had also feigned a head-butt towards Rooney seconds before the match kicked off as he was walking past his club mate to take up his position on the left-wing.
Down to 10 men, England held on against Portugal to finish at 0-0 after extra time but lost 3-1 in a penalty shootout.
"People will say that the referee gave the red card because I spoke with him. This is not true. I spoke with him to say it was a foul, but I only said it was a foul, not a red card," said Ronaldo.
"I think the English press will say Rooney was sent off because of me but it is not true."
Ronaldo was seen winking at his bench after the incident but refused to comment on why.
Gary Neville, who is Rooney and Ronaldo's captain at United, said the England striker was heartbroken but would get over it.
"He is a colleague at club and international level and we hope the sending-off won't be as bad as it looks," he said. "I know Wayne is a strong character and whatever comes of it, and he is heartbroken, there will be people around him who will have been through it all before.
"But tonight is not about Wayne Rooney being sent off, it's about England being out of the World Cup."
It was a deja vu moment for England.
Source: China Daily