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    ‘Sergio belongs here’ – Zidane wants Ramos to retire at Real Madrid

    The Los Blancos boss feels there is nowhere better for the club veteran to end his career

    Zinedine Zidane believes Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos should retire at the Santiago Bernabeu amid question marks over his future.

    Ramos’ contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season, by which time he will be 35, and it remains to be seen whether the star defender will remain in the Spanish capital.

    The Spain skipper showed he is far from finished with another inspiring performance in Madrid’s 2-0 La Liga victory over Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

    Ramos – who took his season tally to nine goals, becoming the first defender to score eight or more goals in a single LaLiga campaign since Ezequiel Garay in 2006-07 – scored a stunning 56th-minute free-kick to ensure Madrid returned to the top of the table midweek.

    “Sergio belongs here as a player,” Madrid head coach Zidane told reporters afterwards. “He’s been here for years and he should retire here. It’s what I think and I’ll stand by it.”

    Vinicius Junior broke the deadlock for Madrid in the 19th minute at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, where Ramos curled a set-piece past Manolo Reina 11 minutes into the second half.

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    A fourth consecutive victory since the coronavirus-enforced break saw Madrid move back to the summit due to their superior head-to-head record against bitter rivals Barcelona.

    “We need to have the ball,” Zidane said. “The setup isn’t the most important thing for me, it’s more about what we do on the pitch with the ball. We can do better, but I’m satisfied with what I saw and what these players are doing is not at all easy. 

    “That’s four wins in a row, but the standout feature for us today was our defensive solidity all round. We can get better going forward and that’s what we’ll try to do.

    “We were a bit tired by the end today but that’s not just Real Madrid, the same goes for all the teams. It’s a strange situation, we’re back training after 60 days and with the heat and everything. But we have to keep going and all we can do is be more alert with the players, we want to keep moving forward strong.

    “We’re all more or less in the same boat. The important thing is that it’s four wins for us, but that’s a credit to the players. We’re training well and we always want more.

    “The players’ attitude has been phenomenal, so too has that of the players who are not playing as much, and this is what makes the difference in the dressing room. We have seven finals left, the players have to recover well and continue with what we are doing, we haven’t won anything.”

    Out-of-favour star Gareth Bale, meanwhile, made his first start for Madrid since February. Bale, despite working hard, largely failed to impress against relegation-threatened Mallorca.

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    “We’re happy with what we’re doing and Gareth is an important player, he’s always shown that,” Zidane said.

    “The important thing is to play like we’re playing. The players change, but the important thing is that the dynamic doesn’t change.

    “As always, there are players who are going to have more minutes, but that has been the case all along and it’s not going to change.”

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