MX23RW : Monday, July 23 10:02:33

Fernando Santos: 'I trust Cristiano Ronaldo 100% as an athlete'

Fernando Santos insists that helping Portugal to Confederations Cup glory is more important than the ongoing speculation surrounding star man Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has claimed that he would 'put his hands on fire' for Cristiano Ronaldo amid accusations that the Real Madrid forward defrauded Spanish tax authorities.

Shock reports in the Portuguese and Spanish press earlier this week suggested that the 32-year-old wants out of the Bernabeu this summer.

The four-time Ballon d'Or winner is accused of breaching his tax obligations, totalling around £13m, and has grown upset by the lack of support given to him by Madrid chiefs.

Santos insists that all focus is currently on the Confederations Cup, however, which Portugal get under way on Sunday afternoon against Mexico, backing Ronaldo to put the ongoing concerns behind him.

"I've known him for many years," he told reporters in Kazin. "I was his last coach in Portugal when he was 18 years old. I can put my hands on the fire for his character and integrity, as a man and an athlete. That's my clear statement. I trust him 100% as an athlete and as a man.

"We are here to represent Portugal in the Confederations Cup. I have a pact from the beginning with my players, all personal issues not connected to the team are left out. We are prepared for a game with a good opponent, we have seen many videos of them, they have a lot of technical ability, they are very strong but we are prepared to win."

Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Manchester United are all understood to be in the running to sign Ronaldo, who has netted an unrivalled 406 goals for Madrid in 394 appearances.

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Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring during the Euro 2016 Group F match between Hungary and Portugal on June 22, 2016
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CBarcelona38289199297093
2Atletico MadridAtletico382310558223679
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16Athletic Bilbao381013154149-843
17Leganes38127193451-1743
RDeportivo La CorunaDeportivo38611213876-3829
RLas PalmasLas Palmas3857262474-5022
RMalaga3855282461-3720

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