Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was delighted to hear that Cristiano Ronaldo is set to renew his contract — speaking after Gareth Bale had starred in Sunday’s 3-0 win at home to Leganes in La Liga.
A drowsy first half was enlivened on 39 minutes when Bale raced behind the visitors defence to open the scoring, then soon afterwards the Wales international made it 2-0 with a poacher’s effort from close range.
The second period was mostly notable for Madrid midfielder Luka Modric’s return from injury, until Alvaro Morata made it three late on by turner his marker and firing home.
Asked about reports in the Spanish media that Ronaldo was set to sign a deal keeping him at the Bernabeu until 2021, the Zidane told the postmatch news conference that he was happy the Portuguese was following in his footsteps by finishing his career at Madrid.
“I am happy as what he has to do is finish his career here,” Zidane said. “Cristiano is unique, what he has done, what he is doing, what he is, is unique. His dream is to finish his career here, so we are happy that he can renew his contract, and hang up his boots wearing this white jersey, as I did a long time ago.”
Ronaldo did not have such a happy 90 minutes, failing to manage one shot on target and being booked by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz for dissent in the first half. It is now almost two months and five games since he has scored in front of Madrid’s fans, but Zidane said neither he nor his player were worried about the streak.
“There is nothing wrong with him,” Zidane said. “We always want Cristiano to score, but the other day [at Alaves] he scored three. Maybe you see things on the pitch as he always wants to score. But he does not look concerned to me, he is committed. Of course he wants to score, and even more here, but he is relaxed about it.”
Just last week Bale also signed a new long-term Madrid contract, with some reports claiming he was now the club’s highest paid player, although Zidane rejected a question suggesting that the former Tottenham player had now displaced Ronaldo as the Bernabeu’s leading star.
“I always think about the team,” the Frenchman added. “That is what is important for me. I am happy with the work of them all. Each time one might make the difference, but what I enjoy is the team.”
The win means Madrid are sure to go into the international break clear on top of the La Liga table, and are still unbeaten in all competitions this season.
Asked if he felt he and his team were not getting enough credit for their work, Zidane said: “I don’t think so. This is Madrid, it has always been like that, and it always will. We know the work we are doing. This league will not be won with 100 points for sure. It is more difficult to win games these days. The first half was difficult for us. When you score the goal the game is different, and we controlled second half very well.”
While welcoming Modric’s return from injury, Zidane was cautious about his team’s improving fitness situation ahead of the international break, and then visit to Atletico Madrid on Nov. 19.
“Casemiro has got back on the pitch, he is running, without touching the ball,” he said. “I am happy for the return of Luka, and we are still missing Sergio [Ramos], our captain, and Pepe. I hope there are no surprises now when the players go with their international teams.”