Saturday, 6 September 2014

Florentino at Odds with Cristiano

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Real Madrid’s president Florentino Pérez played down an apparent spat with Cristiano Ronaldo on Friday and defended his club’s transfer policy.

Pérez, who has splashed hundreds of millions of euros of the European champions’ cash on top players in recent years, said the loyalty of Ronaldo, the current world player of the year, had been “unquestionable”. The Portugal captain made headlines on Monday when he said the club’s transfer dealings in the latest window would probably have been different if he had been in charge.

“I know Cristiano Ronaldo very well,” Pérez said in a press conference on Thursday. “Cristiano is the best player in the world and his loyalty to Madrid is unquestionable. I have listened to all the comments he made and as I know him, I know that he never questioned the club. My relationship with him is perfect, there are zero discrepancies.”

After winning a record-extending 10th European crown last season, when Ronaldo was the team’s top scorer, Real sold Xabi Alonso and Ángel di Maria and brought in Toni Kroos and James Rodríguez. The departure of Alonso to Bayern Munich, in particular, has prompted suggestions the Madrid club will not have enough quality and experience in midfield without him, while the Argentinian Di María is seen as close to Ronaldo.

Real stuttered in their second La Liga outing at the weekend when they let slip a 2-0 lead and crashed to a 4-2 reverse at Real Sociedad. Ronaldo, 29, missed the game through injury and he followed up his comments on Monday by giving an interview to a British newspaper in which he appeared to suggest he wanted to return to former club Manchester United at some point in his career.

Pérez, who pushed through a lucrative contract extension for Ronaldo in September last year that ties him to the club until 2018, defended Real’s decision to sell Alonso and Di María. “I’ve been here since 2000,” Pérez said. “Since then a lot of players have come and gone and my experience tells me that the ones that leave are always the best and those that arrive are always questioned.

“My first [signing] was [Zinezine] Zidane and the last [before this summer’s transfer market] was [Gareth] Bale. We made the best offer that we could to Di María and he didn’t accept it. Hence, we brought in James [Rodríguez], one of the best players at the World Cup and the Golden Boot award winner.

“Di María had financial requests that I considered legitimate but we couldn’t satisfy them. I reiterate that we made him the best possible offer.

“With the exception of Cristiano [Ronaldo], Di María would have been the highest paid at Real Madrid. Had we accepted his financial demands it would have created an unbalanced treatment that would have put the club’s stability in danger.”

Pérez also explained Alonso’s surprising move to Bayern. “Xabi came to us and told us that he wanted to leave,” he said. “He thought it was the best for him and for the club. Our relationship with Xabi is excellent and we accepted his proposal.

“Xabi is in the final stages of his sporting career and wants to manage it in this way. We understand it and we respect it.”

Pérez revealed that Carlo Ancelotti proved crucial in his club’s decision not to sign Radamel Falcao this summer. Falcao was heavily linked with a move to the Bernabéu in the past few months but joined Manchester United on a season-long loan from Monaco on Monday instead.

“We considered signing Falcao,” Pérez said. “But in this club we follow a sporting-economic equation which [the former club president Santiago] Bernabéu taught us, and we decided not to do so. The coach’s opinion was also important in us turning it down.

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