Football legends Pele and Gordon Banks both warned Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo against walking out on Champions League winners Manchester United and moving to Spanish giants Real Madrid on Saturday.
The 23-year-old forward has still four years remaining on his contract with United – with whom he also won the Premiership last season – and both Pele and Banks ridiculed both his and FIFA president Sepp Blatter's claims that he was being treated like a “slave”.
“You are a slave if you work without a contract or you don't get paid,” said 67-year-old Pele, who was in Stoke, central England, to unveil a statue dedicated to Banks and for a charity match for the former England goalkeeper's charity foundation.
“If you have a contract then in any job you have to finish the contract.
“I think that when he finishes his contract, then he should be free to go wherever he wants to go.”
Ronaldo, who bowed out of Euro 2008 in the quarter-finals after a 3-2 defeat by Germany, is currently recovering from ankle surgery which will rule him out of the start of next season.
Banks, whose save from Pele in the group stage of the 1970 World Cup finals is generally believed to be the greatest ever, accused Ronaldo of showing a lack of respect to Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Banks, who was part of England's 1966 World Cup winning side, said he could not understand why Ronaldo, who scored 42 goals for United last season, would want to move away from Old Trafford to Real Madrid.
“I can't understand why he said he felt he was being treated like a slave,” said the 70-year-old, who lost an eye in a car crash in 1972.
“If he has just signed a new contract then he should respect his manager and honour it. It's stupid.
“I don't understand what the problem is. He plays for a team that has just won the European Cup and the Premier League. He plays for his country. What more does he want?
“It's like anything in life. If a businessman signs a contract then he has to honour it. It's no different than a professional footballer.”
Real Madrid are believed to be prepared to offer around 85 million euros (134 million dollars) for Ronaldo and pay him nine million euros on a five-year deal.
Ronaldo, a boyhood Real fan, has consistently been linked with a move to the Spanish capital since the end of last season.
The management at Real believe that Manchester, who want to keep their star striker, who is under contract until 2012, will be eventually forced to reach a deal to let him go if he wants it.
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