Roberto Martinez names first Portugal squad: Is Cristiano Ronaldo involved?

Roberto Martinez names first Portugal squad: Is Cristiano Ronaldo involved?

Roberto Martinez has named his first Portugal squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg and Cristiano Ronaldo has been selected. There had been speculation in recent days about whether the 38-year-old would receive a call-up or not but Martinez has put these rumours to bed by selecting him and keeping him as the national team captain.

When Portugal were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup at the hands of Morocco, many people believed that it was the end of Ronaldo’s international career. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner left the field in tears, fueling speculation further. However, not long after he confirmed that he planned to continue with the international team should he be selected.

Once the World Cup finished, Ronaldo completed a move to Saudi Arabian side, Al-Nassr after having his contract terminated at Manchester United following a public fallout with Erik Ten Hag. The move to Saudi Arabia appeared to signal the end of Ronaldo’s playing career at a high level, however, it now looks like he is part of Roberto Martinez’s plans for Euro 2024.

His club manager, Rudi Garcia, also suggested last month that Ronaldo’s days at the top of European football weren’t necessarily over. He said that he still believed the ex-Real Madrid man was one of the best players in the world and that he would return to European football after his contract with Al-Nassr expires.

Martinez not looking at age

After announcing his squad, Martinez told reporters:

“Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who is very committed to the national team. A player like Cristiano brings experience, he is an important figure in the team. I don’t look at age or other aspects. I think Cristiano has an opportunity to help the team and transmit the experience of his career to the other players.

This step is important for the players who are here. We want to make a winning team, a competitive team.”

It’s a big decision that Martinez has made and one that could quite easily come back to haunt him. Given Ronaldo’s track record when it comes to being used sparingly, you would think that Martinez is only calling him up to be his main centre forward.

If he is calling him up to sit on the bench and to play a bit-part role then the new manager may well encounter the same problems that Ten Hag did at United and that his predecessor, Fernando Santos, did during the World Cup.

The issue here is that Cristiano Ronaldo is far from the same player he was even five years ago when he was still an undroppable talent. Nowadays, Portugal have other forwards at their disposal who some would argue offer far more than Ronaldo.

Assuming Martinez plays a 4-3-3, which seems the most suited formation for the squad of players he has selected, then he will have to leave out two of Joao Felix, Goncalo Ramos, Rafael Leao and Diogo Jota if he is insistent on starting Ronaldo.

Other notable inclusions

There are ten Premier League players in Martinez’s first squad, including Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes. While 40-year-old Pepe has also received a call-up. The central defender is still playing regularly for Porto and his inclusion is further proof that the new boss isn’t interested in how old his players are.

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