Raul reveals he gets on well with Cristiano Ronaldo and says the Real Madrid forward and Lionel Messi are ‘on another planet.’
Former Madrid captain Raul was teammates with Ronaldo for a year before leaving Santiago Bernabeu and told an interview with AS that there was life at the club after the Portuguese, but what he has achieved so far is unparalleled.
“What he is doing is enormous, but there is a great squad with players who can give more. The important thing is for everyone to work as a group. Cristiano has been the top scorer in seven or eight seasons. Nobody expected that, his desire to train every day and meet challenges,” Raul said.
“I have a good relationship with him. And the admiration is mutual. I only shared a locker room with him for a year, but it was an important year and we hit it off.
“What he and Messi are doing day after day has never been done by anyone else. Or by very few. I can’t speak of what happened before, but Cristiano and Messi are on another planet. Then they go to the national team and it isn’t easy, but Cristiano took a big step in winning the European Championships.”
It was put to Raul that Ronaldo is a leader on the pitch for club and country, and he was asked for his thoughts on Sergio Ramos and a number of other Madrid players.
“Ramos gives identity to the club, the team, his teammates. He’s been a real captain and a professional and naturally assumed that role, you could already see something special when he was young,” Raul recalled.
“When he arrived at Madrid he already had that personality, that urge to be there to support and drag others. His transition to the captaincy has been calm and natural.
“Luka Modric? He’s the difference in midfield, who makes the difference in unbalancing a complicated game. He always finds ways and paths. And he has integrated perfectly into Spanish culture, he speaks the language perfectly. Chapeau to him, because it isn’t just now but from the first moment. He carries a lot of weight in the team, he knows how to bring everything together.
“It wasn’t an easy year for James Rodriguez, but he will be very useful for the future. With his quality he will be very important for Madrid. I would like him to stay because he still has a lot to give. This has to serve as experience. You can’t live on what you did last year in Madrid. The competition doesn't stop and you always have to be there. Football has to be important.”
Keylor Navas was next for Raul’s assessment, as was a player who almost but not quite succeeded Iker Casillas for club and country, David De Gea.
“I saw Keylor recently and congratulated him, for his professionalism and how quickly he changed his mind-set. He’s shown his love for training and to play and do well and that’s what counts. Sometimes the things that make you suffer, make you better,” Raul said of the aborted swap between Navas and De Gea a year ago.
“We’ll never know about De Gea. It’s not that he has a great future, but rather he’s having a great present. He could have been defending the club for a long time and will do so for the national team, as Iker did.”