Real Madrid's Brazilian
striker Ronaldo has urged Germany captain Michael Ballack to join the
nine-time European champions and take over the mantle of ageing French
talisman Zinedine Zidane.
Ballack, a free agent at the end of the season, refused to sign a
four-year extension at German champions Bayern Munich and Ronaldo
believes the midfielder needs to go to Italy or Spain to fulfill his
"I believe he (Ballack) could be one of the Madrid greats," Ronaldo said
in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.
"If he has aspirations to become world footballer of the year he has to
play in the Spanish or Italian league. The German league is simply too
"But at Real he would have the chance to win this accolade."
French international icon Zidane, 33, is the central figure in midfield
for Real but Ronaldo believes Ballack can step into his shoes.
"The battle for places at Madrid is fierce and that is healthy," said
Ronaldo. "It makes you stronger as a player and I think that one day
Ballack can take Zidane's throne and become a Real Madrid legend."
Ballack turned down Madrid in the summer of 2002 when at Bayer
Leverkusen, claiming he was not ready to move abroad and opted to join
Bayern in a 12.9 million euro deal.
With his contract expiring the 29-year-old Ballack has decided to listen
to all offers in January 2006 and with Manchester United recently
pulling out of the race Madrid are firm favourites for his signature.
"It has been a long-standing dream of mine to play abroad," explained
"I am 29, my contract is going to expire and this is the last
opportunity for me to do something I have always wanted."
Bayern withdrew their lucrative four-year extension after Ballack,
scorer of 29 goals in 61 internationals, continued to stall and chairman
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted the midfielder was set to leave.
"Ballack decides his future in January and he will probably sign for
Chelsea or Real," said Rummenigge.
English champions Chelsea have denied their interest in Ballack.