Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol is hoping speculation linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a move away from the Bernabeu proves unfounded, describing his team-mate as the best player on the planet.
Ronaldo's future with Madrid has been under the spotlight since the Portugal international admitted earlier this season he was "sad" for professional reasons while Spanish newspaper AS yesterday claimed the £80million man would not be signing a new contract with the Spanish giants. His current deal runs out in 2015.
That has led to suggestions Madrid could be forced to cash in on their star forward to avoid losing him on the cheap, and former club Manchester United and big-spending French side Paris St Germain have been touted as possible destinations for the 27-year-old.
Albiol is keeping his fingers crossed that does not happen though, telling reporters: "I don't know if he's going to renew his contract or not. But Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world and we want him by our side as long as possible."
Albiol also wants to move on from the controversy caused by Madrid coach Jose Mourinho's decision to drop long-serving number one and club captain Iker Casillas.
Mourinho surprisingly opted to start with back-up goalkeeper Antonio Adan in place of Casillas for Madrid's final match of 2012 against Malaga last weekend, but Albiol believes the furore caused by that decision has been blown out of proportion.
"After 10 years as a starter, the day that Casillas was a substitute surprised everybody. But I think the controversy was too much. Even Iker said that. We must forget these things that happen outside the club and do our best to win things in 2013. Mourinho took the decision and that's that.
"We will continue training to be at our best level. We must be united. We all want the best for Real Madrid."
Madrid's 3-2 defeat to Malaga left the reigning champions 16 points behind Primera Division leaders Barcelona.