Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has refused to rule out the possibility of the club making a move for Cristiano Ronaldo, amid persistent reports that the Portuguese superstar wants to leave Juventus.
Speaking ahead of Real’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Italian side Atalanta, Zidane replied “yes, it could be” when questioned if the rumors were true of a bid to bring Ronaldo back.
The 36-year-old star left Real for Turin in 2018, having become Los Blancos’ all-time top scorer with 450 goals in 438 appearances.
Ronaldo helped the club to four Champions League titles – three of which came consecutively under Zidane’s guidance. The pair also won the 2016-17 La Liga title together.
Since Ronaldo left the famous royal white of the Spanish giants, neither party has enjoyed further success in Europe.
While Real remain in this season’s Champions League, holding a slender 1-0 lead in their tie with Atalanta before Tuesday’s second leg in Spain, Ronaldo and Juventus are already out of the competition.
The Serie A champions were sent packing on away goals by unfancied Porto last week, in a tie which finished 4-4 on aggregate but which Ronaldo failed to make his mark on.
That disappointment, coupled with an uphill struggle to retain their Serie A title in a first season under Andrea Pirlo, has heightened speculation that Ronaldo will not see out the last year of his contract in Italy.
According to some accounts, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has already been in contact with figures at Real over a potential return.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia about his time spent working with Ronaldo, Zidane was effusive in his praise.
“We know Cristiano, we know what he has done for Real Madrid, but now he is a Juve player, he is playing with another team. We’ll see what his future will be,” the Frenchman said.
Ronaldo has attempted to quell the rumors in recent days, taking to social media to seemingly pledge his commitment to Juve. He also struck a 57th career hat-trick on Sunday as Pirlo’s men beat Cagliari in Serie A, widely seen as a message that the star was fired up by criticism in the wake of Juve’s Champions League exit.
Speaking at the weekend, Juve official Fabio Paratici said: “It’s a privilege to have him here, we are happy to have him here. He surely represents the future of Juventus.”
Ronaldo’s treble on Sunday took him to 23 league goals in 23 games, as he leads the Serie A scoring charts.
There have been suggestions in some quarters that should Real move for Ronaldo, he could act as a short-term attacking solution before they swoop for young stars Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland the following summer.