Zidane won’t rule out Ronaldo return to Madrid

Zinedine Zidane has apparently opened the door to a possible Real Madrid return for Cristiano Ronaldo as speculation continues about the Juventus forward’s future.

“Maybe,” Zidane told Sky Sport Italy when asked about Ronaldo ahead of Madrid’s Champions League round-of-16 second leg with Atalanta. “We know Cristiano, the person he is and what he did here. But he’s a Juventus player… We’ll see what happens in the future. I was lucky to coach him. He’s really impressive.”

– Ogden: What’s next for Ronaldo? Real, Man United, MLS?
Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

Zidane had previously been tight-lipped when asked about the chances of re-signing the Portugal international, who is Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer after a stellar nine-year spell at the Bernabeu.

The team has seen a notable drop in their efficiency in front of goal since his departure, with only Karim Benzema reaching double figures in La Liga this season.

ESPN has reported that Madrid are currently waiting to see how the team finishes the season — as well as their financial situation — before decisions are made on signing a forward this summer.

Ronaldo joined Madrid from Manchester United in 2009 and won four Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles, scoring 450 goals, before leaving for Juventus in July 2018.

He has come in for criticism in the last week after Juve were knocked out of the Champions League by Porto, with the Italian giants also lying third in the Serie A table.

Ronaldo responded to that European elimination on social media, saying “it’s true that the past belongs in museums, but fortunately, football has memory… and so do I.”

He went on to score a first-half hat trick against Cagliari on Sunday, and Juventus director of football Fabio Paratici appeared to rule out any chance that Ronaldo — who has a contract until June 2022 — could leave this summer.

“We’re keeping him close to us and we will enjoy him for as long as possible,” he said. “We are delighted to have him with us. Does he represent the future of Juve? Without a doubt.”

Zidane’s words are likely to reignite the speculation, though, while former teammate Benzema also praised Ronaldo on Monday.

“I did a lot of things with Cristiano at Madrid, scored a lot of goals, gave a lot of assists,” he said. “But he left three years ago. I’m not the president or the coach, so I don’t know if he’s OK or not at Juve. He’s always behaved well with me, and he’s a player who will always score goals, but I can’t say if he’ll come here.”