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Zidane on possible Cristiano return: “You know the affection we have for him at Real Madrid”

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The coach also discussed Ramos’ future and Hazard’s return from injury.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane spoke to the media on Friday lunchtime, previewing Real Madrid’s Saturday afternoon clash with Elche and answering questions a wide range of topics. Discussing the game itself, he said: “There are no easy games. We know our opponents are in the lower half of the table, but they’re a good team. They’ve had a lot of good games in this season, with their new coach too. So, we know we need to play a good game to take the three points. We’ve welcomed back Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard for tomorrow’s game. They could have minutes, but I won’t reveal my line-up now of course.”

Asked further questions about Hazard’s state, the coach expressed his continued belief in the Belgian by saying: “He’s had injuries, it’s true. Never before in his career had he had long-term injuries. Now he has had many issues at Real Madrid, but he has a long contract and I think that he’s a player who, when he gets f**king good, he’ll be very impressive. I’m positive and I want to tell our fans that there may be some doubts, but when a player isn’t 100 percent then it’s difficult. But, I’m convinced that he’ll do well here.”

Two other players he was asked about where Marco Asensio and Vinícius. On their inconsistent form, Zidane said: “I think [Asensio] is doing well little by little. He has been back for a while and I don’t think the injury is impeding him now. We’re always going to ask more of him because we know the player he is. He is working well and we’re happy to have him with us. [With Vinícius], I think his evolution is good. He is young and still has to improve and train well. At Real Madrid, we’ll always ask more of the players we have here. Can Vini and other players give more on the pitch? Of course.”

Sergio Ramos was brought up too, after his Thursday night comments, and Zidane was asked about the captain’s desire to play until the 2026 World Cup. “It’s what he said,” Zidane replied, chuckling. “The intention he has is good. To want to keep playing is good. If he keeps feeling good, like now, then he could play until he is 40 years old. We’ll have to see how he is each year. A player is the one who decides when he wants to stop. So, it’s not about age for me.”

Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo was brought up after recent reports suggesting the No.7 could return to Real Madrid. On that, Zidane 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.”