Wednesday 19 September 2018

Jose Mourinho says he is last man who should 'add fuel to the fire' over Cristiano Ronaldo speculation

Jose Mourinho, left, managed Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid (Stephen Pond/EMPICS)
Jose Mourinho, left, managed Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid (Stephen Pond/EMPICS)

Timothy Abraham

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is the kind of player that every manager would want in their squad.

Portugal international Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Old Trafford, and Mourinho has said in the past he intended to make a statement signing in the summer.

Reports in Spain claim Ronaldo, 32, will join United if Real are able to lure Brazil forward Neymar from Paris St Germain.

The Red Devils sold Ronaldo to Real for £80m in July 2009 and while Mourinho largely played down the rumours, he did offer United fans a glimmer of hope.

“I think at the moment Real Madrid is with him now. I think I should be the last one to add some fuel to the fire,” Mourinho said.

“Madrid is on fire. The results are not good, and it’s a club where I worked for three years, I care about the club and I am the last one to add fire.

“So to put some water on the fire I think Cristiano is the kind of player that every manager wants, every club wants.

“But only one manager can, only one club can have - (Zinedine) Zidane and Real Madrid, that’s my feeling.”

Mourinho meanwhile claims Alexis Sanchez has left a “fantastic club for a giant club” as he prepares to hand him a debut against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup.

The Chile forward, 29, joined United from Arsenal in a swap deal which saw Armenia playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the opposite direction.

Sanchez will be United’s squad for Friday’s fourth-round tie at Huish Park and Mourinho could not resist a veiled dig at Arsene Wenger’s side as he pondered the merits of the transfer.

“Manchester United made a fantastic deal,” Mourinho said. “I think Arsenal also made a fantastic deal. I lost a fantastic player. Mr Wenger lost a fantastic. I got a fantastic player, and Mr Wenger got a fantastic player.

“Alexis changed from a fantastic club to a giant club. Henrikh Mkhitaryan changed also to a fantastic club. So I think it was a great deal for everyone.

“It’s a very specific transfer between two rivals in the same country which is something I want to say should happen more times.”

Mourinho believes Sanchez’s versatility will be a key attribute in United’s attacking prowess and bring added competition for places.

“He can play everywhere in the attacking positions,” Mourinho explained.

“I know him very well. I saw him play on the right, on the left and as a striker and behind the striker.

“These are Alexis’ positions. I saw him play with different tactical systems, I saw him play different philosophies of different managers.

“I saw him successful in every country, with every manager, with every system in every position. So he is a player who becomes more than a player because of that.

“Because of that multifunctionality. He can play in the four different positions.

“We have five attacking players of high quality. Mata, Rashford, Marital, Lukaku and Alexis and this fantastic feeling and fantastic for the team. If the players are one day on the bench and they don’t like it. I am happy with that.

“We want to improve all the time and get better and better. We want to achieve big things. We are not going to stop until we do that.”

Mourinho also felt that Mkhitaryan could perhaps have done more to adjust to life at Old Trafford as he tipped him to fulfil his potential with Arsenal.

“I believe Mkhitaryan is going to be even better than he was with us,” he added.

“Why? Because one-and-a-half years he is in England, one-and-a-half years in the Premier League he has adapted.

“He knows Arsenal the way they play and the way they think. It’s a good move for everybody. That’s why I am also happy for Mkhitaryan.

“Could he perform better with us? Maybe. Could I have taken more from him? Maybe. Could he give more to adapt more to us? Maybe. But I don’t think regrets. He is in our history. He didn’t important things for us. So a good feeling for everybody.”

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