Diego Simeone has suggested that Atlético Madrid were never interested in offering Cristiano Ronaldo a release from Manchester United due to his association with Real Madrid.
Atlético were one of many European clubs, along with Bayern, Chelsea and Napoli, that were linked with the United striker in the transfer window.
Simeone remained silent on the rumors at the time, though fans made their thoughts clear by unfurling a “CR7 NOT WELCOME” banner during preseason.
However, with Ronaldo staying at Old Trafford until at least January, Simeone says the 37-year-old’s move to Atlético was not an option because of the unrest it would cause among fans.
“What are these little birds [journalists] This is far from what happened,” Simeone told Tigo Sports reporter Martin Liberma.
“People sometimes speak to tell you what they want to say, not what is actually happening. Ronaldo is the absolute benchmark for Real Madrid.
“You wouldn’t see [Martin] Palermo or [Juan Roman] Riquelme plays for River Plate or [Ariel] Ortega plays for Boca Juniors. There are certain situations that are very clear.”
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 14, 2022
Simeone added: “I remember in pre-season a fan behind me, not understanding what was going on, shouted: ‘Colo, watch out, this is not the Champions League at any cost.’
“I liked it because it’s a healthy reflection of how I felt at the time. We signed Luis Suarez [from Barcelona] before, but it’s different from the Ronaldo case.”
Ronaldo scored 450 goals in nine seasons at the Santiago Bernabéu, winning two La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
He has since spent three years at Juventus and is now in his second season at United, but he was reportedly keen to leave at the end of the season.
By distancing Atlético from the move, Simeone respects what the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has accomplished in his illustrious career.
“I have no doubt that Ronaldo will score goals again, as he has done all his life,” he added. “He can’t leave if he’s as strong-willed as ever.”