TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
MOURINHO LOOKING TO LEAVE THE BERNABEU IN JUNE
The Portuguese coach is definitely not enjoying his best spell since moving to Spain. In a purely sporting sense, Mourinho’s men are 11 points behind Barcelona in La Liga, something which had not happened in the trainer’s career since his early days at Porto, and such a deficit has cost many a Madrid boss their job in the past. In the Champions League, meanwhile, he was unable to win either game against eventual Group D winners Borussia Dortmund.
Things are not all rosy in the dressing room, either. Mourinho has had bust-ups with both Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil, but there have been plenty of other controversies too, including the recent run-in with Atletico assistant German ‘Mono’ Burgos, constant disputes with referees, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) over the calendar, Real Madrid B coach Alberto Toril and even the club’s own fans, who jeered the 49-year-old in the Copa del Rey clash against Alcoyano at the Santiago Bernabeu and then again ahead of the capital derby. And that left an unpleasant taste within the higher reaches of the Blancos board.
Mourinho is more distanced than ever from Real Madrid, and from president Florentino Perez. The coach did not take part in the presentation of the new training centre, nor the biography of Sergio Ramos, while he has publically put off talks on his future until the end of the season and let out a come-and-get-me plea to the Premier League (in the Manchester City press room no less).
His end at the club looks closer than ever. Not even Madrid fans are confident he will be at the Bernabeu next season. If he wins the Champions League or is capable of turning over the deficit in La Liga, it will be Mourinho himself who abandons the side, as he did at Porto and Inter. But if he fails to win a trophy, an agreement is likely to be reached for his tenure to come to an end this summer.
With elections set to take place in the summer, Perez is wary of being dragged along by a coach who has got his own way pretty much whenever he has wanted to so far. That has been permitted as long as results have been positive, but that is not the case currently and Mourinho’s actions are not in keeping with the history of the club. The distance between both parties is ever greater – and it looks set to continue growing in the coming months.
MADRID WILL FIGHT TO KEEP CRISTIANO RONALDO
Cristiano Ronaldo is sad. That is what the Portuguese revealed himself back in September. He feels that Madrid do not support or defend him sufficiently, believing the club could do more to lobby for him in the fight for the Ballon d’Or. And he has yet to accept the team’s offer of a new contract, which has been on the table for some time.
However, Madrid believe they can persuade Ronaldo to stay, and they know that Cristiano’s future does not depend on that of Mourinho. The board are clear that he is one of the world’s greatest players and are aware that it would be very difficult to replace him. They don’t want to let him go.
So they are supporting him as much as they can. Florentino and part of the Madrid hierarchy accompanied Ronaldo to the recent National Sports Awards, and Ronaldo responded by appearing at team-mate Sergio Ramos’ book presentation. On both occasions, the mood was cordial between the two, unlike at the official team photo when there was clear tension in the air.
Madrid are willing to push financially to hold onto Ronaldo. Given the change in tax laws in Spain, a contract renewal would cost the side almost double what they currently pay Cristiano – around €14 million. They plan to use money they can save by offloading Kaka, although are unwilling to cede image rights to Ronaldo, with player and club currently splitting those in two. However, both parties are keen on a deal and it looks likely that an agreement will be reached for Ronaldo to remain at the Bernabeu.
KAKA WILLING TO LEAVE AS WINDOW APPROACHES
That Kaka has no future at Real Madrid is no secret. The Brazilian has featured sparingly under Mourinho, and even though he has played some good games this season and done extra work in training on his own to reach the fitness level of his team-mates, it’s not enough. Kaka has never been able to reproduce his AC Milan form at Madrid and now nobody believes he will be able to.
Madrid wanted to sell the player in the summer. The club did not say so publicly, but the midfielder arrived at the Bernabeu for summer talks amidst much media scrutiny. However, he was unsatisfied with any of the offers on the table and preferred to stay at the club, knowing he would play little in the current campaign.
The situation has changed in the last four months, however. Kaka now feels less comfortable after being reduced to a bit-part role and feeling unrewarded for his hard work. He therefore hasn’t ruled out leaving the Liga holders.
Kaka himself even said only a few days ago after the win against Ajax last week: “I don’t know what will happen with my future at Real Madrid. I’m still their player and I am here for what they need from me. It’s clear that all players like to play all the time. At the moment there is nothing with LA Galaxy, MLS or anything else. I will have to speak to the club, and we will see what happens and what the team wants. It has to be a comfortable situation for both [parties].”
That is a different version to his previous claims of wanting to triumph at Real Madrid. Now it’s about reaching an agreement with the club, so if a satisfactory offer is tabled in the next month, Kaka will likely leave Real Madrid.
– Alberto Pinero | Real Madrid Correspondent