Portugal again left out Cristiano Ronaldo, their all-time record scorer and most capped player, as coach Fernando Santos named the squad for this month’s Nations League matches against Italy and Poland on Thursday.
Santos previously omitted Ronaldo from the squad in September and October, saying the decision was taken by mutual consent as the 33-year-old was still adapting following his move from Real Madrid to Juventus.
“The only thing I will say about Ronaldo is that I hope he wins the Ballon d’Or award,” said Santos, referring to France Football magazine’s annual player of the year award.
“He deserves it and it would be an injustice if he didn’t win.” Portugal visit Italy on Nov. 17 and are at home to Poland three days later.
Santos did not say whether Ronaldo, who last played for Portugal at the World Cup in Russia, would be recalled for their following matches in March.
“It’s not just about Ronaldo, I have said that nobody is excluded,” said Santos. “It’s not worth creating a big fuss about it.”
“Only the future will tell us what is going to happen. I don’t know what will happen between now and March. There will be a natural evolution… I don’t have the gift of being able to guess the future.” Santos recalled four Euro 2016 winners who missed the previous callup — Raphael Guerreiro, Jose Fonte, Andre Gomes and Joao Mario.
Portugal lead Group Three with six points from two games and a draw in Italy will see them through to the semi-finals.