The Real Madrid president, Florentino Prez, plans to talk to Cristiano Ronaldo in the next few days regarding speculation linking him with a return to Manchester United
The Real Madrid president, Florentino Prez, says he intends to speak to Cristiano Ronaldo after the Confederations Cup comes to a close next week and claims that he is not contemplating the possibility of him departing the Santiago Bernabu, despite reports that he wants to leave Spain. Prez also insisted that he not received any offers for Ronaldo or indeed for James Rodrguez or lvaro Morata. But, pushed on how he would react if he insists that he wants to go when they speak, Prez said: Life is long and you dont know what can happen. Lets see; well listen to him.
Ronaldo is a Madrid player, were delighted with him, [but] there was a story in the paper that said he was annoyed with the treatment given to his tax issue. I think the best thing for him and Madrid is for him to stay: well see what happens, Prez said. Right now, Cristiano is a Real Madrid player and something very strange would have to happen for him not to be, and I am not [even] contemplating that.
Madrids president said that he had found out about Ronaldos reported desire to leave when he was sent the front cover of the Portuguese newspaper A Bola on Monday morning. The paper, which is close to the players agent Jorge Mendes, led on the headline: Ronaldo wants to abandon Spain. According to the report, he had told international team-mates that he wants to leave after the Spanish state prosecutor had requested that his case for alleged tax evasion be taken to court. Further reports suggested that Ronaldo has insisted there was no way back. None of the stories met with any denial.
Ronaldo was said to be upset with the way that the case had been treated in the media and by Real Madrid, who he believes have not done enough to defend him. There have been suggestions that he hoped Madrid would take responsibility for his tax issues and cover any financial penalty. Prez defended Ronaldo but said that the idea that the club would pay any fine on his behalf does not make sense, claiming: he would not want that, Im sure. Hes not like that. If he is annoyed its not because of that, it is because he feels unfairly treated.
Prez added that while the club pays income tax, players organise their image rights as they see fit. This, in short, was not Madrids responsibility.
Prez, who had refused to take questions from the media during the announcement that he was formally beginning a new mandate as Madrids president on Monday evening, spoke to the radio station Onda Cero radio station late that night. Interviews were also conducted with the newspapers ABC and Marca and were due to appear the following morning, outlining that this was a conscious strategy. Marcas headline read: I have to speak to Ronaldo: he is a Madrid player and will continue to be. ABC led on: It is unacceptable that Ronaldo is treated like a delinquent.
Yet while he defended Ronaldo and repeatedly said that right now he is not thinking about a scenario in which he will leave, Prez stopped short of offering up a guarantee. At one point he insisted: Im not here to defend anyone. The result of the interview was effectively to return the ball, and responsibility, to Ronaldos court. Publicly at least, the issue was postponed until his return. There was ambiguity and no rush to offer an instant resolution, nor any details given of conversations held with Mendes. Indeed, he claimed not to have really spoken to Ronaldos agent.
Prez also said he had not spoken to PSGs president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi. There was no mention of Manchester United. He did, though, admit that he had talked briefly to Zinedine Zidane about it and that they had spoken of their concern over the issue. I dont know [if he has rung Cristiano], Prez said.
I havent spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo; I found out because of what has been said in the papers, Prez had begun by saying. I dont have a solution [yet]. All I can say right now is that Cristiano Ronaldo, like all players who have a contract, is a Real Madrid player. Whatever happened and something has happened that has affected his credibility for sure he will tell us and we will see what has happened. No one has said anything. Ive read what you have read, and I dont think its convenient to read too much into that. Things happen and you look for the best solution for everyone.[I found out] through the media. They sent me the cover of A Bola. They say that it seems he is annoyed because of this Hacienda [Inland Revenue] issue. We dont know the extent of that he has not said it. I dont know [why Mendes has not said anything]. A paper said it and we dont know who said it to them. It seems some player in the national team said something. Well see if theres more to it than that.
The last time I was with Cristiano was in Cardiff. We were talking normally, he was delighted, he was enthusiastic, we talked about next season, he was normal, looking forward to it.
Asked if he had spoken to Mendes, Prez replied: No, no. All that reached me is that [Ronaldo] is annoyed because of this and his treatment from the media. He added: No one has told me anyone is annoyed with anyone.
Prez defended Ronaldo, insisting that the structure set up for his image rights is the same as he had when he was a player at Manchester United. I know him: hes a good guy, a professional, not only with the ball but also as a person, Prez said. All this is very strange. I will speak to him and lets see what he has to say. We all have to fulfil our duty to Hacienda. We have complete confidence that he has always wanted to fulfil his fiscal duties. His lawyers, Baker & McKenzie, say he has the same structure in place as when he was in England. It would be absurd if [he was charged when] it is the same as there and all he has done is bring it here.
Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and Cristiano even more so. I see some of the things that are said in the media and it hurts me and I have nothing to do with it. He does important things socially: he is a person of solidarity. It must be some confusion life is long and I am sure we will find out, but what his lawyers have said publicly is that there is nothing there. They dont understand it and they ae going to defend him. Maybe there is some misinterpretation. There is no intention [to defraud], for sure. He believes he has not committed any crime and that has to hurt. It would hurt me.
Cristiano understands that he has to fulfil his fiscal obligations. He does a lot for others. He is not a man who chases money. He wants to be the best player in the world, not to make money.
I havent spoken to anyone at all, Prez said. Im a friend of Nasser and I have not spoken to him, or anyone. No one has sent us an offer, for him [Ronaldo] or Morata, or James. No one. And we have not sent any offers for anyone, either. There is no figure [for transfers], we do not contemplate anything right now other than carrying on with all the players we have, including James.
But, the interviewer insisted, would you force Ronaldo to stay? Prez replied: Let me talk to Cristiano Ronaldo, I have a good relationship with him and we have got on well for eight years. I have to speak to him to know, when the Confederations Cup ends. Im not going to go there [to Russia] to talk to him. Im not contemplating him leaving Madrid at the moment.
Asked about Morata, with whom Manchester United have been negotiating, Prez said: In principle, we dont want anyone to go. No one has offered anything. Not for James, not for Morata, not for me. At least let him enjoy his honeymoon. Whatever we have to do has to be at the right moment. No one wants him to go. Were happy with him, hes a Madrid player and in principle were happy with him. No one has offered us anything for him. I have read $75m, [but] Im not contemplating it.