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MARTIN SAMUEL insists Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer worth the fuss for Portugal

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‘He is a demanding PEST for Portugal’: MARTIN SAMUEL insists Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer worth the fuss after losing the ‘ability to perform’ on the biggest stage in today’s WORLD CUP CONFIDENTIAL

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Cristiano Ronaldo is the ‘demanding scourge’ that Portugal no longer needs, says Martin Samuel.

Fernando Santos’ team will begin their World Cup campaign on Thursday when they take on Ghana in Group H at 4pm (GMT).

Samuel insisted that Ronaldo, Portugal’s captain and their all-time record goalscorer with 117 goals, is effectively hindering his national team’s progress and is no longer worth all the effort.

Martin Samuel argues that Cristiano Ronaldo is the ‘plague’ Portugal no longer needs

Samuel discussed Ronaldo's role for his national team in the latest World Cup Confidential

Samuel discussed Ronaldo's role for his national team in the latest World Cup Confidential

Samuel discussed Ronaldo’s role for his national team in the latest World Cup Confidential

Daily Mail chief sports writer Martin Samuel spoke as part of Sports mail and the MailPlus daily videocast ‘World Cup confidential’. It will appear on MailOnline every morning of the tournament and can be found on our YouTube channel.

Conversation with colleague Sports mail colleagues Ian Ladyman, Rob Draper and Matt Barlow, Samuel expressed doubts about Ronaldo, who has been a key player for Portugal since making his debut in 2003 – but struggled to form this year, scoring just twice in seven international appearances .

He also failed to impress Manchester United with one goal in 10 Premier League games this season before it was announced on Tuesday that he was leaving Manchester United by mutual consent following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan last week.

Samuel said, “He was always worth the hassle, but I’m not sure he’s worth it now.

“He has become a demanding pest, as is supposed for a high maintenance player who is totally worth it.

“Today I think it’s by far the biggest story in the World Cup. The man just sacked by United – sacked!

Not sold but sacked by United and he walks out the door today with the whole world watching him. What is he going to do? How will he act?

The attacker is preparing for Portugal's World Cup opener with Ghana on Thursday afternoon

The attacker is preparing for Portugal's World Cup opener with Ghana on Thursday afternoon

The attacker is preparing for Portugal’s World Cup opener with Ghana on Thursday afternoon

Ronaldo has scored more international goals than any player ever with 117 goals for Portugal

Ronaldo has scored more international goals than any player ever with 117 goals for Portugal

Ronaldo has scored more international goals than any player ever with 117 goals for Portugal

“Their opponents are good today too – he’s not playing a minnow team that Portugal would expect to turn around easily – Ronaldo in the spotlight today is an incredible feat of theatre.”

Ronaldo’s 117 goals in 191 caps mean he has made more international appearances than any European player and has scored more international goals than any player ever.

However, Samuel stressed that the decline in the attacker’s form over the past year means that the negatives of him in the team now outweigh the positives.

He said, “He usually performs in the spotlight. That’s the thing that’s changed — his ability to deliver has changed over the last 12-18 months.

“He was always worth it because the man just scored goals for you and you won the league, the Champions League and now that has changed.

“You have a lot of the aggro and not so much of the gravy!”

Manchester United announced on Tuesday that Ronaldo has left the club by mutual consent

Samuel’s fellow Sportsmail writers then debated whether Ronaldo was worth having on the team, with Ladyman claiming the striker was ‘worth it’, but Barlow and Draper disagreed.

Barlow said, “No more. I’ve seen a lot of Portugal at the European Championships and I think he’s silencing other players in the team.’

Draper added: “I don’t think he’s made for modern football at this age.”