Champions League

Mariano Diaz unfazed by the weight of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt

Real Madrid re-signed former striker Mariano Diaz from Lyon for €33 million and handed him the iconic ‘7’ shirt after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo

Mariano initially spent two years with Real Madrid C from 2012-14. He made 46 appearances scoring 18 goals in the process. He was then pushed up into the Real Madrid B side where he spent another couple of years. During this period, he scored 32 goals in 44 appearances and now he’s been brought back to the Bernabeu a year after he left to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Image result for mariano diaz

Owing to impressive outings with Real Madrid B, Mariano was drafted into the Real Madrid first team for the 2016-17 season. However, he made only 8 appearances in that season and scored just once.

In the following season, he was sold to Olympique Lyonnais for 8 million euros. The 25-year-old had a solid season with Lyon. He scored 21 goals in 48 appearances across all competitions. As a result, he was re-signed by Madrid at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. On being asked whether he was already under pressure because of the shirt, he said, “I think [that taking the number] it is the least important thing, Yes [it weighs heavy], but it was free, it’s a number that I like and it’s a personal challenge.

I’m happy to wear the No. 7 [shirt], following Amancio, Juanito, [Emilio] Butragueno and Raul… and since I was a kid, I’ve seen them play with him … And Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. It was free, all Real Madrid fans know it, and they tell me what number I wanted to wear. I asked what numbers are free. And I said: ‘I like the No. 7.’

Many people have told me [that it was very bold to take it]. Other people have told me bad things. Not bad but that there is pressure in wearing that number. Others have told me that I have been brave and others that I should not have taken it. I’m not thinking about it [the pressure], just training every day to the maximum to be able to enjoy minutes.”

He also confessed that Real manager Julen Lopetegui’s call surprised him, “I didn’t have his phone number, I didn’t know who it was,I wasn’t expecting a call at that moment. He told me he’d love if I would come back and I told him the same and he explained everything to me. Sevilla was interested in me.

That is something which I appreciated very much but then Madrid called, which is the club of my dreams and here I am. They knew that the club I love is Madrid, so I guess they have to understand.”

Author’s take

Jersey number ‘7’ or not, when you are replacing someone of the stature of Cristiano Ronaldo, there is bound to be a lot of pressure. And along with this pressure comes criticism and scrutiny. It will be interesting to see whether Mariano can live up to the expectations of the Madrid faithful.

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