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Zidane: I have the world’s best player

Real coach puts Ronaldo ahead of Messi, then slates VARs and red card rule

Image Credit: AFP
Zinedine Zidane oversees a Real Madrid training session in Abu Dhabi ahead of the Fifa Club World Cup semi-final.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insisted Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player in the world when asked the inevitable Lionel Messi comparison question in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of the Fifa Club World Cup on Tuesday.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I think I have the best player in the world and he is showing it in this shirt,” said the Frenchman. “I am delighted to have him, for me he is the best,” he added of the Portuguese forward, who lifted his fifth Ballon D’Or last Thursday to equal Barcelona and Argentina star Messi’s record of most golden balls.

Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate, who used to be the assistant manager of Barcelona, and whose UAE side were to face Real in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, was also asked to compare the world’s two best players, to which he angrily replied: “It’s like choosing between two Rolls Royces, some like the red one, some like the blue one, is that a good enough answer for you?”

Asked if Ten Cate’s history in Spain made Wednesday night’s game all the more emotional for him, the Dutchman then shot back: “I don’t think it’s proper to speak about Barcelona when I’m here as coach of Al Jazira. I’m here to talk about the game between Al Jazira and Real Madrid and that has nothing to do with my history with Barcelona.”

Elsewhere, Zidane also voiced some concerns for the Fifa Club World Cup’s red card rule, which states that sanctions from sending offs in the UAE will be carried back into the domestic league, meaning any players who get booked in the Emirates will miss December 23’s El Clasico at home to Barcelona.

“It’s one thing that can happen and the players will keep that in mind,” he said. “It’s a bit tough that a red in this Club World Cup can affect the league, but I am positive and I know that nothing will happen and that [all the players] will be available against Barcelona.”

The Real coach also took a swipe at Video Assistant Refereeing (VARs), which is being trialled at this tournament.

“Technology has been brought in to improve things,” he said. “If we go into details, there are things that I don’t like. It’s a topic to talk about in depth and now it’s not the time.”