Premiership clubs with plenty of cash to spare moved to a state of red alert yesterday after an extraordinary press conference given by the Real Madrid striker Ronaldo. On the eve of tonight's Champions' League first-leg tie against Arsenal in the first round of the knock-out stages, he laid into his own fans claiming they had never shown him any affection and hinted that their attitude could force him to leave the club in the summer.
"I have never felt at home in my own stadium," he said. "I have never felt loved. And I have never stayed in a place where I am not wanted. I will have to consider my future at the end of the season." Asked if England could be a destination, the Brazilian added: "If I go, I will consider all options."
The striker, who will be 30 in October, has never enjoyed a particular good relationship with home fans who question his attitude and his physical condition. He recently returned from a three-month injury lay-off only to be heavily criticised for his attitude in Real's 6-1 defeat in a Spanish Cup match and was whistled off the pitch by angry fans at the weekend when substituted in the second half.
He said: "When I'm in the street the people show me a lot of affection but I never get that inside the Bernabeu. I love the city of Madrid and I'm playing in a great team but I would like some love from the fans inside the stadium and I don't get it. I've scored 10 goals in 16 matches, despite three months out injured, my record speaks for itself.
"I've tried to get the message across a million times that we need to be supported every minute we are on the pitch. I don't understand why I get treated like this. I am going to make a decision at the end of the season. I will weigh up everything that has happened to me here in my four years. I'm not bothered about what the fans think about me saying that. I just have to concentrate on trying to win the league and the Champions' League."
Concentrating on the Champions' League was what Real Madrid were trying to do before the Brazilian striker's bombshell. Now they have to deal with the fallout from Ronaldo's comments and with the prospect of facing Thierry Henry tonight.
On his head-to-head with the Arsenal striker Ronaldo said: "He's a great player. Like me, he doesn't have to prove anything. His greatest asset is his pace. When he is running with the ball there is just no one that can compare with him. We have to be very aware of him."Reuse content