The Cristiano Ronaldo rumors are swirling once again, with Real Madrid mired in a slump and the superstar reportedly wanting out.
Zinedine Zidane has claimed that a Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo is unfathomable and the player is still a prized asset, despite his current struggles and rumors of a spectacular exit.
The Ballon d'Or winner is reportedly unhappy over form and broken promises at the club, with whom he has been since joining from Manchester United in 2009.
Ronaldo has only managed to find the back of the net on four occasions in fourteen La Liga appearances and, despite nine goals in the Champions League group stages, he has drawn plenty of criticism, while reports have claimed that president Florentino Perez is ready to cut the cord on the Portuguese forward in order to rebuild his squad.
Zidane remains resolute the 32-year-old is still a vital cog in the machine, when speaking in a pre-match press conference for the Copa del Rey clash against CD Leganes (as quoted by Marca).
"I am not worried - we know that you can talk and argue outside, but inside here, Cristiano has to think about playing as always he has done," Zidane said.
"I would prefer to talk about his performances and what he gives to the team.
"I cannot imagine a Madrid without Cristiano. This is his club and where he should be. The club, the fans and everyone loves him.
"I do not want to talk about this, the contract and these things. Cristiano is [too] old for all this. It is the club that needs to talk with him."
Los Blancos are currently in turmoil and sit a massive nineteen points off of rivals Barcelona, following the defeat at home to Villarreal. The loss means Madrid have not won in La Liga in three attempts, as they look a shadow of the side that finished first last season and won their twelfth European Cup.
Marca put Ronaldo, as well as teammates Karim Benzema and Marcelo in La Liga's worst XI of the half season, despite awarding him their player of the month award for December.
Despite the turbulent form and La Liga seemingly out of sight, Zidane remains cool-headed in the face of overwhelming scrutiny, believing hard work is the cure to the team's ills.
"I am not imagining anything - I go from day to day. I always do this and my way of thinking will not change," the Frenchman added.
"Everyone can look at the situation how they want, and, for me, when there are difficult moments, I work and try to do good things on the pitch. I have experience of being a player and I know the best thing about football is there is a game every three days, and that all can change."