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“Ronaldo to Atlético? You wouldn’t see Riquelme at River Plate”

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo was linked to Atlético Madrid, but Diego Simeone says a move was never on the cards.

Gianluca Simeone da ‘like’ a un tweet en el que se informa de que el portugués está valorando volver a Madrid y de que el Cholo ha dado el OK a la operación.

Diego Simeone has suggested Atlético Madrid were never interested in offering Cristiano Ronaldo a route out of Manchester United due to his association with Real Madrid. Atlético were one of a number of European clubs, along with the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Napoli, to have been linked with the United forward in the last transfer window. Simeone remained quiet on the speculation at the time, though supporters made their thoughts clear by unfurling a “CR7 NOT WELCOME” banner during the team’s pre-season training camp.

Football rivalries at play

However, with Ronaldo remaining at Old Trafford until at least January, Simeone says the 37-year-old making a move to Atleti was never feasible due to the unrest it would have caused among the fanbase. “What these little birds [journalists] have said is far from what happened,” El Cholo told Tigo Sports reporter Martin Liberma. “People sometimes speak to tell you what they want to tell, not what actually happens. Ronaldo is an absolute benchmark for Real Madrid. You wouldn’t see [Martín] Palermo or [Juan Román] Riquelme play for River Plate or [Ariel] Ortega playing for Boca Juniors. There are certain situations that are very clear.”

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Simeone added: “I remember in pre-season when a fan behind me, without knowing what was happening, yelled ‘Cholo, careful, it’s not the Champions League at all costs’. I liked that because it’s a healthy reflection of what I felt at that time. We signed Luis Suárez [from Barcelona] before, but that is different to the Ronaldo case.”

Ronaldo scored 450 goals across nine seasons during his time with Real Madrid, winning two LaLiga titles and the Champions League four times. He has since spent three years with Juventus and is now in his second campaign back at United, but he was reportedly eager to move on in the close season. While distancing Atleti from a move, Simeone respects what the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has achieved throughout a remarkable career. “I have no doubt Ronaldo will score goals again as he’s done it all his life,” he added. “It’s impossible for him to walk away if he’s mentally as strong as he’s always been.”