Cristiano Ronaldo won't be sold - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he is not concerned with the jeers and whistles directed at Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu and added that he doesn't agree with any fan opinions that his star striker should be sold off to another club.
The club host Roma for Champions League on Tuesday and the Serie A side are 2-0 down from the first leg of the round-of-16 clash, and Zidane welcomed both the positive and negative reactions from supporters.
"I don't [think Ronaldo should be sold]. And I am the coach and I like Cristiano," Zidane told a news conference on Monday. "The jeers, I also got them when I played, we all did. It is not about the player. It is about the fans demanding more from their players. I think [the whistling] is the best thing for the players because it helps them improve.
Zidane repeated the comments he made on Saturday after Ronaldo responded to whistles with a four-goal haul in Saturday's 7-1 La Liga win at home to Celta Vigo.
Ronaldo now has 252 goals in just 228 La Liga games and overtook Athletic Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra to go second in the Spanish league's all-time goal-scoring charts, although he remains some distance behind Lionel Messi's 304.
The Portuguese also now heads the La Liga "Pichichi" and European Golden Boot races for this season with 27 goals.
"In the end, the supporters love their players and that is what matters. Because I continue to always see the stadium filled. That means a lot.
"The fans are very important for us. And the fans know that they are important. When they don't see the things they want they whistle a little. That is part of football. I was a player and you can't make a big deal over that."
The injured Karim Benzema will sit out Tuesday's match and Zidane also opted not to include Borja Mayoral in his 19-man squad, which the club confirmed. Toni Kroos, who practiced on Monday, was included. Benzema is expected to be out for the rest of March.
"He has played three games with us and his intensity has been incredible," said Zidane of Mayoral. "He is one of our Castilla players, but he is an important part of the group. He has the personality and the desire but we must proceed with caution. I have told him that we must move little by little."
Zidane added that he was taking no chances against Roma despite the lead.
"[Roma] are a good team, but I am more concerned with my players. They all know this will be a tough match. And the ones that will come after [we beat] Roma are also very good and very strong," he said, adding that he was not concerned with the doubters. "I don't care about that. Now, to win, we have to play well. If we don't, they can eliminate us. We are going to prepare for this match as best we can.
"The only thing we have to do is win because of course we are dreaming of this, but our thoughts are only on tomorrow's match," said Zidane when asked whether he felt pressure to win Champions League given Real Madrid's current situation in La Liga. "Many people feel that tomorrow's match will be easy and that is not true. It will be a tough game. We have to play well and win well.
"Afterward we will think about the weekend. I am not thinking about whether this has been a good or a bad season. I just focus on the day to day. That is what gives me strength."
Asked about Brazil's decision to leave Marcelo out of the Selecao for the match against Uruguay, Zidane said: "He is ready to play for us. That is only thing I can say. That Brazil call him up or not -- that is up to their coach."
He also added that Colombian James will need to compete for time on the field.
"The problem is not his. He is a committed player and he trains well. Then what we end up having to do is make changes and one or two players always must come out. For James at the end of the day what is the most important is that he leaves everything he has on the pitch. And that is what he is doing. I am always going to ask more of him because he is so talented but so are the others. He is improving and showing that improvement."
Asked whether Gareth Bale or Lucas Vazquez would prevail, Zidane said he was counting on both: "Whomever plays will have to do well. They will have to be convincing on the field. Tomorrow we shall see, but the idea is this: we must defend when we don't have the ball and do damage when we have it. It will be complicated to put the team together but it is best that we have everyone at our disposal."