• La Liga

Ronaldo drops Mourinho exit hint

ESPN staff
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Ronaldo scored for Portugal last night

Cristiano Ronaldo has suggested that Jose Mourinho could be coming towards the end of his time in charge of Real Madrid.

Speculation about Mourinho's long-term future at Madrid has continued with his side 16 points adrift of Barcelona in the La Liga table.

Matters have only been made worse by a season that has been marred by regular rows between the Portuguese coach and his own club's players, supporters and youth coach, as well as a breakdown in his relationship with local journalists.

This week El Pais reported that Mourinho was currently "flirting" with Chelsea and his agent Jorge Mendes had contacted Roman Abramovich regarding a return to the Premier League club. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are also regularly discussed in the Spanish media as possible suitors for the Madrid boss.

Ronaldo feels the 50-year-old will remain at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu until June to try and win the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but does not know what might happen afterwards.

"I do not know," Ronaldo told AS. "I think he will continue, at least until the end of the season, because he is a coach who always wants to win and we have some goals in front of us which we can achieve. After that he will decide what is best for him, for the group and for the club. But I do not know what he is thinking, nor the club, so I prefer not to talk about it."

Ronaldo recently joined the list of Madrid stars - which includes Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil - to have clashed with Mourinho this season. The two reportedly exchanged angry words in the dressing room after January's Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg win over Valencia at the Bernabeu, when Mourinho had been unhappy with the attacker's work rate during the game.

Ronaldo, though, says that whatever had happened then was now forgotten about. "That is a personal matter, which is already sorted out," he said. "Everything is fine now. What happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room."

The former Manchester United attacker said earlier this week that his bout of 'unhappiness' earlier in the season had now passed, and that it had not been due to money issues. Another theory has now arisen that his mood was affected by a lack of support from the club for his individual battles with Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

Mourinho did not travel with Ronaldo to January's Ballon d'Or ceremony in Zurich, where both men had been nominated for prizes but did not win, however, the Madrid man now understands his boss' decision to remain in Spain.

"I respect the coach's decision, and it was his call," he said. "I think he knew what was going to happen. Maybe he is cleverer than others. I did understand as well as him what was going to happen, so I understand it."

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