Manuel Pellegrini believes Cristiano Ronaldo remains Real Madrid’s main threat ahead of the Champions League semi-final against his Manchester City.
The Portuguese superstar has 47 goals in 44 games for Madrid this season, including a phenomenal 16 in 10 Champions League outings.
Ronaldo will sit out Saturday’s Liga trip to Rayo Vallecano due to a thigh problem, although coach Zinedine Zidane insists the complaint is “nothing serious”.
Pellegrini coached Ronaldo during his time in charge of Madrid in the 2009-10 campaign and would view the ex-Manchester United forward’s absence as a considerable boost to City’s cause at the Etihad Stadium in next Tuesday’s first leg.
In an interview with Marca, when asked which Real Madrid player he would like to have at City, Pellegrini said: “Cristiano Ronaldo, without doubt. He is a fantastic player and makes an enormous difference to a game.
“You can criticise him all you want but he is a true professional, a winner, a player who strives every day. Everyone would want him in their side.”
One Real Madrid player who could conceivably be lining up on the opposite side next week is Spain international Isco.
The playmaker made his senior breakthrough at Malaga under Pellegrini and the Chilean tactician claims Isco agreed a move to Manchester in 2013 before Madrid came calling.
“For some players, it is a dream to play at Madrid,” he said. “Isco had agreed to play at City but there were reasons not to.
“I don’t want to analyse his motives but I understand he wanted to play in Madrid.
“It is an experience which makes you grow, it’s a great team and you are always training with the best players.
“It’s very important to be training alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and, before, Xabi Alonso every day.”
Isco has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot at the Santiago Bernabeu but Pellegrini believes he would have excelled in the Premier League.
“Isco would have achieved great things at City,” he added.
“I’ve always liked technical, creative central midfielders with the capacity to score goals, such as David Silva, Samir Nasri and Santi Cazorla.
“Isco would have had an important place here but if coming to City would have made him better or worse, that is not for me to say.”
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