Real Madrid vice-captain Marcelo says he and his teammates will support Cristiano Ronaldo “to the death” amid uncertainty over whether the Portugal captain will play for the club again.
Cristiano Ronaldo 32, is due in court in Madrid on July 31 to answer charges brought by prosecutors at Spain’s Hacienda tax authority, who maintain that he used a network of offshore companies to avoid paying at least €14.7 million in tax on ‘image rights’ income, with experts saying that jail time is a real possibility if he does not admit guilt and pay a fine.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s camp have maintained that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, and indignation at what he sees as persecution in Spain lead him to let it be known he was keen to leave the country. The boarding of his yacht by customs agents this week reportedly served as further provocation.
Speaking from a news conference at UCLA ahead of a preseason training session, Marcelo said he would wait to discuss the issue until Ronaldo joined up with the squad — which may or may not be in time for Aug. 2’s International Champions Cup Clasico against Barcelona in Miami.
“I have not spoken with Cristiano about this,” Marcelo said. “He knows that his teammates are with him to the death. When he arrives we will speak with him and see how he is.”
Madrid landed in Los Angeles on Tuesday to begin their preparations ahead of an ICC schedule which begins on July 23 in Santa Clara, California, with a high-profile meeting with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Los Blancos also face their former boss’ side in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje, Macedeonia, on Aug 8.
The atmosphere between the two clubs is currently tense, according to sources at the English club, due to competition for facilities in LA and a feeling that Madrid will make another effort to sign United goalkeeper David De Gea later this summer.
Marcelo was asked if there was outstanding “morbo,” or needle, from Mourinho’s three seasons in charge at the Bernabeu, during which he had fallen out with Blancos stars including then-captain Iker Casillas and current skipper Sergio Ramos.
“I’ve not seen [Mourinho] here yet,” he said. “I don’t know what ‘morbo’ means. I never had any problems with him, have no reason for revenge. I played against him before, with no problem. It’s always great to play against the best, he is one of those, and helped me a lot when he was at Madrid.”
Marcelo said he was mostly interested in getting down to work and preparing well for the new season under the eye of the club’s physical preparation specialist Antonio Pintus.
“This is our third day here and we must keep going like this — work, work, work,” he said. “Preseason is key for the whole season. Last year we we were very tired, but it was important as we reached the end of the season stronger.
“This year will be the same, we will work very hard, to reach the end of the season well and fight for trophies.”