Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly insulted manager Zinedine Zidane after he was substituted against Las Palmas on Saturday evening.
As reported by Sport, the 31-year-old was caught by cameras muttering to himself while on the bench after being withdrawn from the action. It’s stated Ronaldo said the Spanish equivalent of “your f--king mother” or “f--k you” in the direction of the Zidane.
“Not just that, but he also said...a Portuguese expression somewhere between ‘f--k yourself’ and ‘for f--k’s sake,’” the piece added.
Ronaldo was withdrawn from the game in the 72nd minute with Madrid leading 2-1, although a late goal from Sergio Araujo salvaged a point for Las Palmas.
It was the second draw in a row for Real, capping off what’s been a frustrating week for Zidane and his players. They still remain top of the standings in La Liga after six games played, although wins for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid mean they have just one- and two-point buffers to their rivals respectively.
Ronaldo was noticeably unhappy at being withdrawn from the contest, as he typically spends the entire 90 minutes on the field when fit. According to James Wheeler of Sky Sports, the forward has never been subbed in similar circumstances (via Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague):
As we can see here, courtesy of AS English, the Portugal captain didn’t look impressed when his number came up:
Afterward, Zidane tried to play down the significance of withdrawing his main man, insisting he’s unable to play every minute of every game.
“Of course he wants to stay on the pitch, but I have to think about my players and in particular Cristiano,” the manager said of Ronaldo’s angry reaction, per AS. “We've got a game on Tuesday, and he needs to come off occasionally.”
Footballers who have played as much as Ronaldo and are of his age would most likely welcome the occasional rest. However, the former Manchester United man is clearly keen to contribute as much as possible and had no issue with making his feelings known on the matter. Under Zidane, periodic breathers look like something he may have to get used to.
Overall, it’s not been the best start to the season for Ronaldo compared to his own immaculate standards. He netted on his return to action, against Osasuna, but he has been short of his best in subsequent matches against Villarreal and Las Palmas.
Perhaps this reaction was a product of a few early-season irritants. Ronaldo is still struggling for sharpness, has yet to rekindle his affinity with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema and has not been substituted in these circumstances for a long time. Evidently, he’s far from content.
However, Zidane will have felt confident of his side seeing the game out against Las Palmas, and with a mammoth Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund to come on Tuesday, he saw an ideal opportunity to give his talisman some time off. He’ll be hoping Ronaldo channels his anger in the right way at Westfalenstadion.