A PROUD MARIANO Diaz is excited by the challenge of taking ownership of Real Madrid’s number seven shirt previously occupied by club great Cristiano Ronaldo.
After a mooted move to Sevilla collapsed, the Dominican Republic international completed his €33 million return to Madrid on Thursday after spending a single season in Ligue 1 with Lyon.
The 25-year-old has signed a five-year contract to rejoin the European champions, where he made eight La Liga appearances in 2016-17 before leaving in June 2017.
Madrid reportedly still owned 35% of the player’s rights, so they will only pay €25m.
They were in the market for a forward following Ronaldo’s €100m sale to Juventus and plumped for Mariano, who scored 18 goals in 34 Ligue 1 appearances last season. He is the only major attacking signing made since the Portuguese superstar’s exit.
Club icons such as Emilio Butragueno and Raul have also worn seven and Mariano is hoping to prove himself worthy of the shirt.
“For me the most important thing is not the number,” said Mariano, despite reports claiming he asked to succeed Ronaldo.
“It is a challenge and a pride to carry the same number as all the legends, like Emilio Butragueno, and the great players who have carried it.
I was excited, I was free and I am very happy to wear the seven.”
Sevilla hit out at Mariano for rejecting a move to the club in favour of returning to the Santiago Bernabeu but the striker wants to focus on his future under Julen Lopetegui.
“Regarding Sevilla I only have words of thanks for the interest they have shown for me,” Mariano added. “Today is the best day of my life to sign for the best club in the world.
“Julen called me and is responsible for my signing. He told me that he was counting on me and that he would be very happy if he decided to return.
“When you leave your house, you leave sad. It’s hard to imagine coming back after a year and when I received the call Julen I was happy and nervous.”
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