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Zinedine Zidane pleads with Ronaldo after ‘I quit’ bombshell

Real Madrid coach breaks off from his holiday in desperate bid to get superstar to stay

Gulf News

Madrid: Zinedine Zidane has begged Cristiano Ronaldo not to ditch Real Madrid, pleading: “Cris, we need you.”

Real Madrid coach Zidane broke off his holiday to call Ronaldo in a bid to persuade his unsettled star not to quit the club, Spanish sports daily Marca claimed on Sunday.

Ronaldo, on Confederations Cup duty in Russia with Portugal, is reportedly furious over a tax probe into the off shore accounts dealing with his image rights, and has reportedly vowed to leave Spain.

“I am leaving Real Madrid,” Marca claim Ronaldo told his Portuguese colleagues. “I have made a decision. There is no turning back,” the daily sports paper reported.

According to Marca when Zidane heard Ronaldo had sworn to quit he broke off from his family holiday and called his No. 7 to tell him Madrid “needed him for his goals, and also his winning mentality”.

Marca also reported that club captain Sergio Ramos had called Ronaldo to ask him to stay.

In just 265 games for Real Madrid Ronaldo has scored 285 goals, winning three Champions League finals in four seasons.

The 32-year-old Ronaldo is the latest football superstar to come under scrutiny for tax evasion after Lionel Messi was handed a 2.1-million-euro (Dh8.6 million) fine last year for avoiding paying taxes on part of the income he earned from image rights via companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Ronaldo is accused of defrauding the authorities of 14.7 million euros in tax through offshore companies.

Florentino Perez is understood to have arranged a meeting with superagent Jorge Mendes on Sunday for crisis talks.

Marca claims the Madrid president remains reluctant to sell Ronaldo but would consider offers of around 200 million euros — despite the Portuguese having a one billion euros release clause.

Yet Ronaldo’s advisers have reportedly told clubs they believe a deal could be done for a lower fee of 150 million euros, insisting he wants a “new challenge”.

Manchester United remain frontrunners to re-sign their former star, though French giants Paris Saint-Germain are also being heavily linked.

In 2014, Ronaldo told the Telegraph: “I love Manchester. Everyone knows that. Manchester is in my heart.

“I left many good friends there. The supporters are amazing and I wish I can come back one day.”