Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez risked upsetting star player Cristiano Ronaldo last week by refusing to name the three-time Ballon d’Or winner as the best player in the world - but the Spaniard, possibly following a chat with his bosses at the Bernabeu, has changed his tune.
During his latest press conference, held on Wednesday, Benitez categorically stated that Ronaldo is the world’s best player - to the slight surprise of some.
“Fortunately after working with him you can see how competitive he is and how keen he is to win. He has great quality and that’s what makes him the best player in the world,” Benitez was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper AS. “I wish all the players had the same enthusiasm to compete and win. He shows this on a day by day basis and I’m delighted with him.”
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Benitez, there, toeing the party line at Real Madrid. Unfortunately new signings and new managers seem almost forced to declare Ronaldo as the world’s best in order to keep the peace with the egotistical former Manchester United star.
The former Valencia, Liverpool and Napoli manager was then asked why he’d changed his mind. It’s safe to assume his answer doesn’t reveal the complete truth.
“I always try and get the best from my players,” Benitez continued. “Seeing Cristiano close-up and watching him work, you can appreciate why he has won so many trophies. Clearly he is the best in the world”.
Benitez may have felt forced
Clearly. That’s quite the U-turn from Benitez, who sounded far less convinced seven days ago.
In fairness to the Spaniard, any other answer would have gone down like a led balloon inside the Real Madrid dressing room.
Benitez has landed his dream job and wants to last as long as possible in the Bernabeu hot-seat.
Relationship between Ronaldo and Benitez
The relationship between ex-Liverpool boss Benitez and ex-United star Ronaldo promises to be one of this season’s most fascinating sub-plots.
There have already been several incidents in pre-season which suggest the two men might struggle to see eye-to-eye over the course of the 2015-16 campaign.
It was reported on Wednesday that Ronaldo was unhappy with Benitez’s most-recent training session, complaining that his manager was showing bias against the Portuguese members of his squad.
The 30-year-old was also quoted as saying: "It is meant to be the ball in there, in the net, not this s**t,” when asked to participate in a Benitez-inspired crossbar challenge.
Last week, meanwhile, a clip emerged showing Ronaldo looking less than impressed after Benitez touched him in training.
Ronaldo made no secret of the fact he wanted Benitez’s predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, to remain in charge at the Bernabeu.
And it seems Benitez has some work to do to win Ronaldo over.
Do you think Rafael Benitez was forced to say Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best player? Have your say in the comments below!