Zinedine Zidane refuses to rule out Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane has refused to rule out a sensational return to Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal international left the Bernabeu after nine years in 2018 in a deal worth €100m for Juventus.

The Italian champions have been desperate to win the Champions League – a trophy they have not lifted since 1996 – and this deal was supposed to take them to the next level after reaching five finals since their last victory.

But they have come no closer – if anything, it has been worse after two exits from the Champions League at the round of 16 stage in three years.

With one year left on his contract, Juventus are considering letting Ronaldo leave to free up his wages.

The Italian champions are in financial disarray and the 36-year-old currently sets them back £28m a year through wages.

For comparison, the second-highest earner in Turin is Matthijs de Ligt on £7.2m a year.

Inter Miami could be a potential destination after talks were held with David Beckham.

But a return to Real Madrid has also been mooted and Zidane did not deny being opposed to such an idea.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash with Elche, the Madrid manager said: “You know what Cristiano Ronaldo means for Real Madrid.

“You know the affection we have for him at Real Madrid. What he did here was magnificent.

“Right now he’s a Juventus player and he’s doing really well there. I can’t say anything about all the many things they say.

“I can only say that he is a Juventus player and we have to respect that.”

Ronaldo spent nine golden years at the Bernabeu were he worked himself up to be one of the best players of all-time – potentially the greatest.

After 438 appearances in the white of Real, he scored a jaw-dropping 450 times.

He was the key player as Los Blancos won three Champions League trophies in a row between 2016 and 2018 – as well as a fourth title in 2014.

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