For a few weeks earlier this season, it genuinely felt like this could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final season as a Real Madrid player.
The Portuguese superstar wasn’t performing to his best level under Rafael Benitez, speculation linking him with a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain was intensifying and he’d just achieved his number one objective of becoming the Spanish giants’ all-time top goalscorer.
Because Ronaldo is now in his early 30s - he turns 32 next February - this summer would appear to be Real Madrid’s final opportunity to recoup most, if not all, of the £80 million they paid Manchester United back in the summer of 2009.
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Ronaldo leaving the Bernabeu this summer was looking increasingly likely until Benitez was replaced by Zinedine Zidane in January.
The forward’s form has improved significantly since the French coach took over - he has scored 51 goals in 47 appearances with the Champions League final still to come - and, if anything, a contract extension appears to be the most likely outcome.
Cristiano is currently contracted to Real Madrid until 2018 and this summer could be his final opportunity to secure one last big-money deal before age catches up with him and he begins to decline.
Ronaldo wants to retire at Real Madrid
In comments made ahead of this weekend’s Champions League final, it’s clear that Ronaldo wants to stay put at the Bernabeu.
In fact, he sees himself retiring with his current employers and has told PSG and Manchester City to “forget it”.
"Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City can forget it, I'm retiring at Real Madrid," the three-time Ballon d’Or winner was quoted as saying by Marca. ”I have had good and bad moments, four years ago I was not happy but there is no better place to be than here."
Ronaldo: Zidane is doing well
Ronaldo is clearly enjoying life under Zidane who, like Cristiano himself, is one of the greatest footballers of all time.
"I identify with him and want to play for him for many years," he continued. "He has no experience but has done really well."
Ronaldo will be fine for Saturday
Ronaldo limped out of training on Tuesday, sparking fears that he could miss Saturday’s showdown against Atletico at the San Siro, but the Portuguese insists he will be fine to start what promises to be one of the most important matches of his career.
"It was a minor scare, a knock, but in a few days I will be well," he was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo retire at Real Madrid? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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