From the moment he announced himself to the world as a skinny teenager, subtlety has never really been part of the Cristiano Ronaldo playbook.

There was the stepovers, the dazzling boots, the now patented goal celebration - pretty much everything about the Portuguese superstar is loud, brash and in your face.

It's part of what made him one of the greatest footballers of all time, a physical force of nature coupled with generational talent and a feverish obsession with being the very best.

And for so many years, he was right up there, his talent and achievements outdone only by the otherworldly Lionel Messi.

But even the absolute greatest cannot overcome the inevitable march of time, and when the day arrives to step down from atop the mountain, there comes a choice.

You can go gracefully into the night, safe in the knowledge a place among football's circle of legends will never be in doubt.

Or you can arrange a sit down interview with Piers Morgan and take a sledgehammer to your legacy at the club which helped propel you to stardom.

Given what we know about Ronaldo and subtlety, there was probably only ever going to be one outcome.

To put it mildly, the 37-year-old has not taken well to a reduced role under Erik ten Hag this season, apparently still steadfast in the belief his powers have not diminished one iota despite compelling evidence to the contrary. Again, such unwavering confidence and single-mindedness has helped make Ronaldo what he is.

But with that mindset comes an ugliness which has threatened to boil over from the moment Ten Hag decided CR7 would no longer be the main man in his vision of Manchester United's future.

And so it did as Ronaldo lamented to Morgan about how he has been "betrayed", of a manager who has disrespected him, of the unnamed saboteurs allegedly trying to forced him out of Old Trafford.

If you've been paying even the slightest bit of attention to this tiresome soap opera in recent months, you don't need to me to tell you just how little any of the above stands up to the most basic scrutiny.

If Ronaldo is truly sincere in his claims (doubtful, but more on that in a bit), then it appears he's forgotten about his attempt to an engineer a departure from Manchester last summer, and his refusal come on as a sub in last month's win over Tottenham.

Ten Hag then famously disrespected him by enforcing proportionate discipline, before restoring Ronaldo to his starting line-up four games in a row, complete with the captain's armband.

If anything, the Dutchman has displayed a level of restraint and forgiveness many of his predecessors – namely a certain Scot – certainly would not have, making these claims of treachery and deceit all the more eyebrow-raising.

Maybe Ronaldo really does believe Ten Hag and United are conspiring against him. After all, he appears to still believe he remains one of the world's best players.

But what feels more likely is that after one failed escape attempt, he has decided to make his position within United’s squad so untenable they have no option but to let him go in the New Year.

Ronaldo wants out and he's calculated that shredding his legacy with a fanbase who adored him is a small price to pay for making it happen.

Some will point to the fact he also made salient points about the running of the club in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson wilderness and argue these were truths that needed telling.

Of course, the irony there is had United been functioning as an elite club should they would surely have decided against bringing an ageing, famously petulant forward back on astronomical wages last summer.

But any valid criticism is difficult to take seriously when Ronaldo is simultaneously and very publicly dragging Ten Hag, United's most promising managerial appointment in years, not to mention taking bizarre digs at club legend Wayne Rooney's appearance.

It's why all this feels like an attempt to make sure he gets what he wants when the winter transfer window opens.

And despite bridges being well and truly burnt, that may not be as straightforward as Ronaldo hopes.

United's public stance last summer is that he was not for sale, but it was also widely reported they received no serious offers to take him off their hands.

Some, such as Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, went as far as publicly distancing themselves from the prospect of a move.

It's clear Ronaldo still regards himself as belonging at a top team, but the cream of the crop aren't exactly queuing up to sign him these days and even he must surely see that for what it is.

Given his behaviour, United may feel loathe to pay him off, but there's simply no way he can play under Ten Hag again.

The club have said they will take time to establish the full facts, with Ronaldo's interview with Morgan airing in its entirety on Monday night.

What's already been revealed has pushed the situation beyond the point of no return, but just how all parties go about resolving it very much remains to be seen.