Atletico Madrid’s Koke snubs Cristiano Ronaldo after fans protest against Man Utd transfer

Marcus Rashford reflects on end of Man Utd's pre-season tour in Australia

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A consistent trend has been flowing throughout Atletico Madrid amid the club’s links with a move for wantaway Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Club chiefs and fans alike have poured cold water over the potential transfer, and captain Koke has been no different as he became the latest to react to Atleti’s links to the striker.

Atletico continued their pre-season preparations with a comfortable 4-0 triumph over fourth-tier Spanish opposition Numancia on Wednesday. But one of the main headlines of the clash was a brutal banner unveiled by Los Rojiblancos fans reading: “CR7 NOT WELCOME.”

Koke was a second-half substitute, replacing Rodrigo de Paul, as he gears up for his 14th season at the club and was on media duty after full-time. The 30-year-old skipper insisted that despite intense speculation, Ronaldo hasn’t been a rife subject in the Atleti dressing room, with their focus firmly set on the campaign ahead.

He told Directo Gol: “There is no talk of Cristiano Ronaldo in the dressing room. My teammates are great players. We have strikers from Argentina, Brazil, some from Portugal, France and Spain. Great players who can do great things. I trust them all.”

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His comments follow club president Enrique Cerezo’s strong denial of interest in a blockbuster deal to bring Ronaldo to the Wanda Metropolitano. “I don’t know who invented this story about Cristiano Ronaldo to Atletico Madrid,” he told Spanish radio earlier this week. “It’s not true. It’s practically impossible for him to come to Atletico Madrid.”

The 37-year-old striker has understood to be receptive to a return to the Spanish capital with Atletico, despite his strong affiliation with their bitter rivals Real Madrid and past animosity toward manager Diego Simeone. But it’s fair to say a transfer is off the cards, given Cerezo’s stance and the supporters’ public disapproval.

Ronaldo returned to Carrington this week, accompanied by agent Jorge Mendes as he continues to attempt to engineer an exit. Despite crunch talks with Erik ten Hag and club figures, including a brief chat with Sir Alex Ferguson, the Portuguese icon hasn’t changed his mind and wants to depart for Champions League football. However, Atletico’s withdrawal hasn’t been the first.

Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have all been offered Ronaldo’s services, services which they’ve all declined. He is now in an awkward situation where, less than two weeks before the season starts, he must decide whether to increase his pressure on United to let him leave or prepare to feature in Ten Hag’s maiden season as manager.

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