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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Cristiano Ronaldo will only play for Real Madrid in Europe - Michel Salgado

Cristiano Ronaldo may end up retiring at Real Madrid, says his former teammate Michel Salgado, who played down the prospect of the Portugal captain leaving Spain any time soon.

The 32-year-old has been linked with moves to former club Manchester United and French champions Paris Saint-Germain this summer after reports he would consider walking out on Real due to scrutiny over his personal income tax.

But Salgado, who briefly crossed paths with Ronaldo at Madrid in 2009 before joining Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, says he doesn't see him wearing the colours of any other European club.

"I don't see Ronaldo with another shirt, at least in top football," Salgado said at the Star Sixes tournament in London.

"Maybe he will retire in Real Madrid, and or maybe he is then going to try another league like the U.S., or something like that.

"But in top football, in Europe, I don't think Ronaldo is going to change clubs. I think he is comfortable in Real Madrid."

Salgado and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009
Cristiano Ronaldo and Michel Salgado, right, crossed paths at Real Madrid in 2009.

Salgado, 41, made 254 Real Madrid appearances in La Liga over a decade, winning four league titles and two UEFA Champions League crowns.

He says that it may be difficult for Ronaldo to raise his level, despite being the hot favourite to win a fifth Ballon d'Or crown. But Salgado added that the forward has become more of a big-game player in recent seasons.

"Right now, he is our soul. He is the guy that we all look to when we are playing the big games," Salgado said. "I think that is the thing that he learnt in the last year... he was ready to be Cristiano Ronaldo when we needed, in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

"So I think he is saving the energy through the season. He is doing really well under the manager, and is physically very good. Maybe he cannot [increase his level] further, but obviously he is going to be really important for Real Madrid."

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid for three seasons, said on Sunday that trying to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford was "mission impossible".

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