Real Madrid vice-captain Marcelo says he sees no reason why Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar cannot play together for the club, while acknowledging that president Florentino Perez has the final say on everything that happens at the Bernabeu.
Reports in Portugal this week claim that Ronaldo has made an “irreversible” decision to leave the club, while Paris Saint-Germian forward Neymar is continually linked with a move to the European champions.
“Cristiano is not the owner of Real Madrid,” Madrid left-back and Neymar’s Brazil teammate Marcelo told a news conference. “If the president wants to sign someone, the president will sign him. But why can’t Neymar come and Cristiano stay?
“The dressing-room all wants Cristiano to stay. And Real Madrid’s doors are always open for Neymar. Madrid must always look for the best players. One day Neymar will play for Real Madrid.”
Ronaldo appears set on trying to force an exit from Madrid for a second successive summer, although sources told ESPN FC after the Champions League final that a new improved contract could resolve the situation.
Perez is reportedly more interested in pushing forward a €350 million deal to sign Neymar, and a meeting between club officials and Ronaldo’s agents in the Spanish capital this week did not bring any progress.
Marcelo also said that five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo was in line to take the trophy again for 2018, while Neymar would win it for sure in future as he would “be as good as Cristiano” over time.
“I’ve never understood the Ballon d’Or criteria,” he said. “I don’t know if it is for trophies, the season, the quality of the player. It just depends who gets the most votes.
“For me Cristiano is the best at the moment and Neymar, for sure, will be as good as Cristiano.”
The latest speculation over Ronaldo’s future was kicked off by Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer talking about his time at the club in the past tense moments after the final whistle of last May’s third consecutive Champions League final victory.
Former Madrid star Luis Figo said his former international teammate had not chosen the best moment to make public his thinking, which may have been influenced by things we do not know.
“I don’t know why Cristiano made these comments, but sometimes you should count to ten first only you don’t,” Figo said. “Just after winning was not the best moment.
“Madrid are the best club in the world, and he should end his career here, but sometimes what happens does not depend just on what you want yourself. It depends on other factors, that those outside do not know.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan