Carlo Ancelotti has poured cold water over reports linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a return to Manchester United by insisting the player is happy with life at Real Madrid.
Manchester United have been considering a big-money move for their former star according to reports in recent weeks but Ancelotti says Madrid’s talisman, who only signed a new five-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu last September, is going nowhere.
“I believe the reports are nonsense,” he said. “Cristiano is happy here and is very motivated to be at this club and all at Real Madrid are happy with him.”
The European champions travel to Villarreal in La Liga tomorrow afternoon and a United fans’ group has hired a plane to fly over the club’s El Madrigal stadium with a banner reading ‘Come Home Ronaldo’. United Reel, a group which includes United fans from around the world, are behind the idea to try and help entice the Ballon d’Or winner back to Manchester.
The 29-year-old fuelled speculation over a return in the summer when he spoke to United’s television station ahead of the pre-season match between the sides in the United States. “I love Manchester and you never know in football,” he told MUTV. “Of course I’m happy at Real Madrid; it’s my home, it’s my club, but United treated me unbelievably, so you never know.”
Manager Louis van Gaal also refused to completely rule a move out, although he did doubt Madrid’s desire to sell the player. “When it is possible, what I said with [Radamel] Falcao, players like Ronaldo give a lot extra to selection or to a team,” he commented. “But I don’t think Real Madrid shall sell him.”
Former Madrid president Ramón Calderdón said that Ronaldo was “fed up” with the transfer policy of the Spanish giants following the sales of Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso this summer, saying those moves were “the last straw” for La Liga’s top scorer.
The Portugal international still has another four years on his deal in the Spanish capital after penning a new-and-improved five year deal a year ago, however, and it is understood United would need pay the biggest transfer fee in the history of the game to get their man.
Ronaldo is certainly enjoying his time with Madrid on the pitch at the moment after scoring seven goals in his last two league matches. He scored four in a 5-1 victory over Elche on Tuesday night to take home his 25th match ball since moving to Spain. It followed a hat-trick in Madrid’s 8-2 thrashing of Deportivo at the weekend. His Elche goal glut ensured he is now just three hat-tricks shy of levelling the 28 hat-tricks scored by club legend Alfredo Di Stéfano.
That midweek quartet also moved him up to third in Madrid’s list of all-time leading goalscorer with 187 in just over five seasons. Raúl is the club’s leading scorer with 228 and Ronaldo will be looking to surpass that figure before he departs the Bernabeu.
"Ronaldo has great professionalism, leadership, we must enjoy him and do everything to keep him in this physical and mental condition,” Ancelotti said before his side’s trip to Villarreal, where they will be looking for a third league win in a row. “Without a doubt he is the best player in the world.”
El Madrigal was the stadium where Gareth Bale made his Madrid bow a year ago, scoring alongside Ronaldo in a 2-2 draw against the Valencian club. A year on and the Welshman goes into the fixture having helped Madrid to the European Cup and Copa del Rey. "Bale has already become used to playing with us,” said Ancelotti. “What he did last year he can improve on this season”. The former Tottenham Hotspur man has already scored five goals in all competitions this season.
Ancelotti confirmed Fabio Coentrao and Pepe are the only absentees for the match against Villarreal.