Cristiano Ronaldo insists he wants to stay at Real Madrid amid speculation over his future with the Spanish and European champions.
Ronaldo inspired Madrid to glory at home and abroad last season, with the 32-year-old’s efforts also leading to him scooping a host of individual awards, including a coveted fifth Ballon d’Or to bring him level with Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.
The Portugal icon picked up a less-celebrated gong – Best Player of the Year from Chinese football app Dongqiudi – this week, amid rapidly changed fortunes for Madrid.
Zinedine Zidane’s men are 19 points shy of leaders Barca as they languish fourth in LaLiga and face a tough last-16 Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain after finishing second in their group to Tottenham.
Their biggest humiliation of a dispiriting 2017-18 arrived in midweek when Leganes won 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to progress to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey at Madrid’s expense on away goals.
As such, reports of a lavish squad overhaul during the close-season have gathered pace, with Neymar identified as a prime target and Ronaldo linked to PSG and former club Manchester United – Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer suddenly appearing expendable.
Rumours persists that Ronaldo is in dispute over an improved contract in the Spanish capital but, in quotes reported by AS, he told Dongqiudi he is not chasing a move.
“I’ve been in this city since 2009 and I love the climate and the people,” he said.
“It’s close to Portugal and you can get there by car. Spain is a great country, I love it. Of course, I want to stay here, I love this club.”
Ronaldo reflected upon Madrid’s disappointment with the season so far but insists winning a third consecutive Champions League remains a realistic target before his focus turns towards the World Cup with Portugal.
“Last season was incredible, but it was also the best,” he said. “This year we didn’t start so well, we’re not going well in LaLiga, the team was knocked out of the Copa del Rey.
“We’re not happy. Real Madrid the club isn’t happy, we’re not happy with it.
“But you also know football changes so much, so we need to keep motivated and work hard because we’ve still got the chance to win the Champions League and the World Cup starts after that.
“Our goal is to win the Champions League, because it’s the biggest prize. However, we are somewhat disappointed, we haven’t been at the required level.”
He added: “This year will be tough, but we won’t give up. Real Madrid never gives up, but it’ll be so, so, so tough.
“As I said before, the start wasn’t good and we lost a lot of points. The only way to cut the gap is hard work. It’s the only solution.”