Star defender Sergio Ramos is back at Real Madrid, but his future at the club still hangs in the balance.
The Spaniard, who turns 35 this month, has been out of play for two months after suffering a blow to his knee, but he made a comeback against Elche on Saturday and helped secure a win for Madrid.
Ramos could be back to full form by Tuesday, when the La Liga side faces Atalanta in the second leg of the Champions League (Madrid won 1-0 in the first leg in Italy).
Ramos has been with the club for 16 years and currently serves as both captain of the Spanish international team and Madrid. But he could be nearing the end of the road. Meanwhile, manager Zinedine Zidane seems to have put up his hands in surrender.
“I want to be honest and I have to say I don’t know what’s going to happen with him,” said Zidane.
“We want him to stay here. He’s always going to be an important player and I want him to remain here, that’s what I’ll say as a coach.
“Will Ramos play until he’s 40? That is what Sergio has said. He is a special player. His intention is already good because he wants to continue playing.
“Every year, he will know if he is in good shape and, if he is like he is now, of course he can play until he is 40, if he wants,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ramos himself is unsure of his future.
“There is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.
“I would like to be able to say something but there is nothing new. I’m only thinking about coming back from injury and to finish the season in the best possible way. There is nothing new about the renewal.”
The footballer has been addressing his age more frequently in recent interviews.
“We are judged by our age, but I have always said that I feel like I am in my prime,” he told Twitch star Ibai Llanos on Thursday. “You shouldn’t be judged by what is on your ID card, rather by your performance. Let them judge Cristiano, Messi ... and me by how we play.”
He added that Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure was an example of how things can go down between a long-serving player and a club.
“Cristiano and Real Madrid both lost,” he said. “I wouldn’t have let him go because he’s one of the best players in the world and he would have helped us win. There are some relationships that have to be for life.”
In another interview, Ramos said he believes he has another three to five years on the pitch left in him.
“[Real Madrid legend] Santiago Bernabeu said there are no young or old players only good and bad. I can perform for three, four or five more years, if my body supports me,” he said.
Club president Florentino Perez has reportedly offered Ramos a one-year extension with the possibility of further extensions down the road with a reduction in salary, according to Spanish publication Marca. However, there is reportedly a deadline on coming to an agreement, as the offer expires at the end of March.