Tuesday 23 April 2019

Zidane: Ronaldo talks are on hold

Zinedine Zidane. Pic: Reuters
Zinedine Zidane. Pic: Reuters

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is open to talks with Cristiano Ronaldo about a new and improved contract - but only after Christmas.

Ronaldo recently won his fifth Ballon d'Or award, but reports in Spain suggest he is unhappy at falling behind Lionel Messi and Neymar in the list of the world's highest-paid players. Messi signed a new long-term contract with Barcelona last month, while Neymar made a world-record £200m summer move from Barca to Paris St Germain.

That was a secondary issue for Zidane as he addressed reporters in Spain ahead of today's Clasico against Barca.

"He is 100 per cent [fit] and that is what interests me," said Zidane. "I'm not going to go into everything before the game tomorrow, that is not the issue. What Cristiano has to think about is the match. It's the same for everyone.

"What I think is that Cristiano, what he has done and what he is doing, deserves all of the club's respect, but only after the winter break will we talk about it."

Ronaldo was reported during the summer to be eyeing a return to England after an investigation in Spain into his tax returns.

The Portuguese star returned to full training yesterday for the first time in a week, indicating he would start today's crunch game.

Ronaldo had been absent from training after hurting his calf against Gremio in the Club World Cup final last Saturday, in which he scored the only goal of Real's 1-0 win over the Brazilian side and completed the full 90 minutes.

The five-times world player of the year is having his worst domestic campaign in nine seasons with Real, having scored only four league goals so far.

He goes into the 'Clasico', however, having scored five times in his last four games in all competitions.

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