Gary Neville has acknowledged that he went through similar struggles to Cristiano Ronaldo in the latter stages of his Manchester United career.

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 22: Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on May 22, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

At Old Trafford this season, Ronaldo, 37, has only started two of the Red Devils’ 13 Premier League games.

As a result of his refusal to enter the game as a substitute during the 2-0 victory against Tottenham, manager Erik ten Hag left him off the team for the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

The future of the Portuguese legend at the club is now extremely uncertain.

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Neville has advised Ronaldo to stop “whining,” but he also understands his current situation

Only 36 Premier League appearances were made by the 47-year-old former England right-back during his final four seasons with United.

And he admitted that the end of his 19-year career came with the arrival of Rafael, a young Brazilian player.

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Speaking on the Gary Neville podcast, he said: “There were moments in my career where I thought, ‘Rafael’s gone in, John O’Shea’s gone in, Wes Brown’s gone in’.

“I watched Brown play a full season and win a Champions League.

“[Brown] He’s a great lad, brilliant player, and I was delighted for him, [but] of course I wanted to be in the team, of course I wanted to be out there and be captain, but I wasn’t.

“Then Rafael came into training. It was Rafael who actually finished my career mentally, in some ways, because I used to watch him in training, get close to players and snap into tackles, and then get up and get back out there again, and I couldn’t get my legs forward.

“I thought, ‘I get it, I see it’.”

After working with United for nearly two decades, Neville retired in 2011.

Rafael, who joined Old Trafford in 2008 along with his twin brother Fabio, would go on to play 170 times for the Premier League’s top clubs.

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He ultimately departed to join Lyon in 2015, and after a brief stint with Istanbul Basaksehir, he was recruited by Brazilian club Botafogo, where he is currently playing.

Ronaldo has been strongly linked with a move away from United in January, so it is still unclear whether he will stay there.

Neville also believes that Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford is best for all parties concerned.

“I hope he leaves next week so they (Ronaldo and Ten Hag) can shake hands,” he added.

“I hope he leaves next week and says to the club thank you very much and the club says to him thank you very much and then he goes and finds a new club because I’d like to see him go and play until he’s 42 scoring a thousand goals…

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“I know it sounds crazy but you can be a better team without players who are just goalscorers, and that’s happened time and time again.

“Mark Hughes wasn’t the greatest goalscorer in the world but within you’re a better team then with someone you can’t hit or can’t play off.

“Cristiano has just become a natural goalscorer – plays within the width of the box – (but) Erik ten Hag doesn’t want to play that way.”

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