Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has teased a return to the club for Cristiano Ronaldo after saying rumours in Spain of a possible transfer “may be true”.
The 36-year-old departed the Spanish capital in the summer of 2018, bringing the curtain down on a stellar nine-year stint at the Bernabeu that had delivered four Champions League trophies, two La Liga crowns and multiple individual awards.
Ronaldo’s move to Juventus was centred around the Portuguese forward enjoying a new challenge, as well as leading La Vecchia Signora to European glory for the first time since 1996.
But after crashing out of the Champions League at the round of 16 stage, there has been uncertainty over Ronaldo’s future – with speculation suggesting that he may leave Turin despite having a year left on his contract.
A fairytale return to Real Madrid had seemed highly unlikely, given the strains of Real’s finances and their very public pursuit of Kylian Mbappe, but Zidane, speaking to Sky in Italy, refused to quash the speculation – instead hinting that Los Blancos are keeping a close eye on his situation.
“Yes, it may be [true],” Zidane said, when asked about the rumours linking Ronaldo with a return to Real. “We know Cristiano, we know the person he is and everything he has done here.
“But now he’s a Juventus player and we must respect this. Now, let’s see what the future will be. I was lucky enough to coach him and he is very impressive. Right now, he’s helping Juventus.”
Ronaldo is regarded by many as Real Madrid‘s greatest ever player, which is high praise indeed when you consider the greats who have pulled on the famous white shirt over the years. But his record speaks for itself, particularly when it comes to scoring goals – he netted an unbelievable 450 times in 438 games.
Zidane’s comments are in stark contrast, however, to those of Juventus’ Chief Football Officer, Fabio Paratici, after the Italian also told Sky Italy that Ronaldo’s future lies solely with Juventus.
“It makes me laugh. In my career, I never thought I’d hear debates about Cristiano Ronaldo,” Paratici said. “I grew up in a small town. In bars or the parish, I heard these discussions about [Roberto] Baggio or [Sandro] Mazzola.
“I never thought I’d hear them about Ronaldo now. He is Serie A top goal scorer. He has won the Ballon d’Or five times. It’s a privilege to have him [and] without a doubt, he represents Juventus’ future.”
For now, Ronaldo’s immediate focus must now turn to Juventus’ Serie A title charge, rather this own future. I Bianconeri are in grave danger of surrendering their crown for the first time in a decade, so there should be plenty to keep him occupied while the rumour mill continues to pedal endless amounts of transfer gossip.