Zinedine Zidane has assured fans that Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Real Madrid as long as he remains as Los Blancos manager, despite the speculation linking the striker with both Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain. The new manager has confirmed that he will deploy the Portuguese star alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in his first line-up since replacing Rafa Benitez ahead of the La Liga game against Deportivo de la Coruña on Saturday (9 January).
Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in recent months after some suggested his best times are over following a poor first part of the season. Louis van Gaal in November made little effort to dismiss the speculation after revealing he would be welcome at Old Trafford.
"Ronaldo plays on the wings and he is fast and scores goals. There is no trainer in the world that doesn't like him," Van Gaal said, as quoted by The Mirror. "Of course we are looking – but are looking at all players, not just Ronaldo. But these players are mostly ungettable. With Ronaldo, let's wait and hope."
It looked as if the appointment of Zidane might change the situation but The Telegraph reported this week that the Portuguese star still expects to move away in the summer, with PSG leading the race ahead of United.
But asked about his potential departure at a press conference ahead of the game against Deportivo, Zidane said, as quoted by Marca: "It's not just that he isn't for sale. He's the heart and soul of this team. I laugh because as long as I'm here, he isn't going anywhere".
The new manager, meanwhile, confirmed that the Portuguese star will remain unmovable alongside Bale and Benzema for his managerial debut match against Deportivo, despite Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti were heavily questioned for fielding the trio together as the team appeared to lack of balance with them.
"We're all going to work together when we don't have the ball. You cannot afford to have two or three players who don't defend," Zidane said.
While asked whether Isco and James Rodriguez will regain a place in his plans, he said: "I'm not saying anything. The three up-front players are definitely going to start and we'll see about the rest tomorrow.
"They're very good and important players. My job is to offer them encouragement and support, talk to them, tell them that what's important to me is the squad, that some players are obviously going to play more than others, but I have to show that the squad come first and foremost. That was my experience as a player."
Zidane, therefore, played down speculations linking Isco and James with a move away due to their lack of playing time, claiming he doesn't expect to make any business during the January transfer window.
"Departures? I don't want anyone to leave and I hope nobody does. I'm not planning for any arrivals either. I have a good-sized squad and I'll make do with the team I have."