MADRID (Reuters) - After seeing Cristiano Ronaldo pick up a fifth Ballon d'Or on Thursday, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane described the Portuguese forward as the greatest player ever.
"Yes. His numbers speak for it, both in terms of what he has done and what's still to come," Zidane said when asked if he felt his number seven was the best of all time.
"I want him here forever. He's really happy in Madrid and he'll finish his career here, he said it himself. There's no more words you can use to describe Cristiano. What he does is phenomenal.
"A player could come here, spend 20 years playing in this side and still not achieve what he's done. I hope he continues making history here until he retires." Winner of the prestigious award himself in 1998 after leading France to World Cup glory, Zidane was deferential when quizzed on his own achievements compared to those of Ronaldo.
"I was definitely better!" he jokingly told a news conference. "You know what I think, he's miles better, but I didn't have a bad career either."
Speaking before the visit of Sevilla, who sit level with Real on 28 points in La Liga, on Saturday, the Frenchman revealed that the club's defensive crisis is easing.
While he will be without three of his first-choice back four - Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane - due to a combination of injury and suspension, reserve centre back Jesus Vallejo has recovered from a knock.
Varane, who limped off on Wednesday against Borussia Dortmund, only has a minor problem and will travel to the Club World Cup next week.
Gareth Bale, however, remains absent and Zidane is unsure as to whether the Welsh forward will feature in Saudi Arabia as Madrid bid to defend their title.
(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli, Editing by Ed Osmond)