Hristo Stoichkov has joined Gary Lineker in criticising Cristiano Ronaldo for failing to celebrate a Gareth Bale goal and suggested now might be an opportune moment for Real Madrid to sell him.
Ronaldo has been displaying his anger in recent weeks, showing Real Madrid fans an unimpressed expression after the Champions League defeat to Schalke and announcing a boycott of media interviews. In the 2-0 win over Levante at the weekend, Ronaldo was seen failing to celebrate a goal from Bale, instead showing his frustration at a missed chance in the build-up.
Match of the Day presenter Lineker labelled the behaviour "extraordinarily stroppy" and "bizarre and unhealthy". Former Barcelona player Stoichkov was equally unimpressed.
"You can never get angry because a team-mate has scored and not celebrating is to commit suicide as a team-mate because then you are worth nothing and you are worth nothing to your team," he told Sportium.
Former Bulgaria international Stoichkov, who was one of the best players of his generation and a star of the 1994 World Cup, went on to speculate Ronaldo's problems are rooted in his rivalry with Lionel Messi.
"You can't doubt the quality of either Ronaldo or Messi. Messi is where he should be and Cristiano is going through a difficult time but all players go through rough patches. I was whistled as well in my time. It's up to the coach to make decisions and to speak to the player.
"Maybe the obsession with Messi is affecting him but I'm not inside his head. Messi motivates his team-mates and, if Ronaldo doesn't score, it affects his team.
"At times like that you have to display your personality; 99 per cent of players can't answer the question 'why am I being booed?'
"Messi is at the level of Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff and what annoys Cristiano is that he is only compared to Messi."
With Real Madrid fans restless and Ronaldo unhappy, there have predictably been rumours of an exit from the Bernabeu for the reigning Ballon d'Or winner, with former club Manchester United among those understood to have serious aspirations of signing him. Stoichkov suggests it could be time for player and club to part company.
"You'd have to ask Florentino Perez about Ronaldo's future. Sooner or later, Cristiano will be sold by his president. The world of football is like that but it depends on his president.
"I don't know if they are short of money. If they are, it's a good moment to sell him."Reuse content