Sergio Ramos found himself fielding questions about a possible return to Real Madrid for Jose Mourinho ahead of Saturday’s Club World Cup final.
Mourinho’s departure from Manchester United has led to fierce speculation about where he might go next and, after the upheaval of the departures of first Zinedine Zidane and then Julen Lopetegui and the low-key appointment of Santiago Solari, the Portuguese has been linked with a return to the Bernabeu.
Ramos was in no mood to discuss the possibility, saying at a press conference reported by marca.com: “I’m nobody to decide who the Real Madrid coach is.
“We’ve been without Mourinho for five years and you’re still talking about him. We have the chance to win a title and we’re talking about Mourinho.”
Madrid would have expected to face Solari’s former club River Plate in Saturday’s final only for the Copa Libertadores winners to be shocked in the semi-finals by United Arab Emirates champions Al Ain following a penalty shoot-out.
Solari insisted Real – looking to win the Club World Cup for a third successive year – will not underestimate their surprise opponents, saying on fifa.com: “It’s a final, it doesn’t matter who the opponents are. If they got this far, then it’s for a reason.
“They’ve won three matches to get here and have scored a lot of goals, too. We have to give the very best account of ourselves if we’re going to win.”
Host nation Al Ain clearly go into the clash as underdogs but the 13-time UAE champions should not be overawed, according to Swedish striker Marcus Berg.
Berg cited the performance of Al Jazira, who narrowly lost to Real in the semi-finals 12 months ago, as a reason to be optimistic alongside their exploits so far.
Berg, who has scored twice in the tournament so far, said on fifa.com: “The team deserve to be in the final.
“Once again we proved the club’s worth to everyone. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far as our performances have been really impressive. We’re in the final on merit.
“We know the final is going to be extremely difficult, but we still aim to win the title.
“The difficulty lies in the physical aspect, as we’ve played three games in a short time span, and that might affect us.
“I’m sure it will be a difficult match, but we need to recover, be positive, and summon all our powers in the final.
“Real Madrid are a powerful side full of household names and are certainly favourites. But anything is possible in football. Last year Al Jazira played well against them here. If we perform well, we might have a chance.”