Ronaldo: Anything is possible
Cristiano Ronaldo was again coy when given a chance to commit his future to Real Madrid after his hat-trick helped his side to a 4-0 win over Celta Vigo at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night, sending them through 5-2 on aggregate to meet Valencia in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.
Speculation that the Portugal international could leave the Bernabeu next summer was heightened this week when Paris Saint-Germain director Leonardo said that the Qatari-backed club were capable of attracting him.
When asked about PSG by reporters in the mixed zone after the game, Ronaldo said now was not the time to talk about the future but "anything was possible".
"I am not going to talk now about other clubs," Ronaldo said. "I have a contract and am fine here, but in the world of football anything is possible."
After once again demonstrating his value to Madrid by taking his goal tally to 174 in 172 games for the club, Ronaldo said a recently improved relationship with the Bernabeu fans had helped him regain his best form.
"I feel that the fans are on my side," he said. "I feel very comfortable here, with the fans especially. That for me is motivating, and I play better when I am motivated. The truth is I am very happy with the fans, not just today, but for a while now."
Asked about more whistling of Madrid manager Jose Mourinho's name before the game, Ronaldo called on the fans to get behind the team and their boss.
"There has been enough of that already," he said. "Sometimes the fans are more happy than other times, but he is in charge and we must respect his decisions. I would ask the supporters to get behind the team and the boss.
"If we are all together we must win something - we have the Copa and the Champions League and we can improve in the league. The year could still be very good, so people should help not criticise. People have made their protest, and that is enough for now. The players feel what is happening too, and sometimes (the criticism) affects us. We should be all together."
Mourinho let assistant coach Aitor Karanka take the post-game press conference, where the former Madrid defender praised Ronaldo's performance, while suggesting a dip in his form earlier in the season had cost the team.
"There are never any doubts about Cristiano," Karanka said. "Recently when he has not been scoring as normal, the team has felt it. Now that he is back scoring, and the number of goals he is scoring and the confidence it gives him, it is important for the rest of the team."
Karanka said that the recalled Iker Casillas, who made two crucial saves in the second half when Celta were pressing for a goal which would have levelled the tie at 3-3 on aggregate, had played well.
"It is something that we have talked about since we have come back from holidays," he said. "Casillas has made good saves, Cristiano has scored three goals and that is what we ask of our players, that they are at the highest level. We work to pick the XI that will give the best performance."
Any criticism - either from media or supporters - did not affect how Mourinho went about his work, Karanka said.
"The fans do what they think is right," he said. "(Mourinho) is in charge of working and getting the best for Real Madrid. Being with him you are aware of what he does. And if the fans whistle it is because they are not happy."
Asked about press accusations that Mourinho had "lied" by saying he could not attend Monday night's Ballon d'Or ceremony as he had to prepare for the Celta game, and then attending a game played by his son's team as the ceremony was taking place, Karanka said he did not see what the problem was.
"He has not been caught out, he said he had to work and that is what he did," he said. "Later he went to see his son. In this life there is nothing more beautiful than being with your son after completing your obligations, and he had completed them."