Rodrygo’s Real Madrid future – and what a series of interviews tell us about the Brazilian

In the week of Real Madrid’s Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, Rodrygo has become a major talking point.

Three interviews were published with the Brazilian forward this week that generated speculation over his future. The player himself was forced to deny he was looking to leave — but question marks remain.

At a media day at Madrid’s Valdebebas HQ on Monday, players spoke to various outlets. Rodrygo first spoke to broadcaster DAZN and the TV programme El Desmarque, giving a different view of his situation at the Santiago Bernabeu in each of those appearances.

He left the door open to leaving Madrid in his first interview, sparking a strong reaction from commentators and leading to his strong statement on social media. But a third interview with an outlet from his home country re-opened the debate.

The official version is that Rodrygo only sees himself at Madrid, who he joined from Santos in 2019 after rejecting approaches from Barcelona among other clubs.

But is the reality different? And could Rodrygo, 23, be set to leave the Spanish capital?

The controversy started when a teaser of Rodrygo’s interview with DAZN was published on Tuesday — with the full version to air on Thursday.

“All of Europe wants you, but do you want Madrid forever?” the interviewer asked.

“Yes, well, anything can happen,” Rodrygo said. “I have a contract here, but the years I’ve been here have been a pleasure for me.”

“Don’t make the Madridistas nervous!”

“No, no, don’t worry,” the Brazilian responded. “As I said, I always want to be at this club, but let’s see.”

The clip immediately went viral, with many Madrid fans convinced Rodrygo was contemplating a move elsewhere. His use of the past tense even reminded some of Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments after winning the Champions League in 2018, when he said “It was very nice to be at Real Madrid” before leaving for Juventus that summer.

When The Athletic contacted Rodrygo’s entourage about the interview, they said it had been a linguistic misunderstanding and argued he had chosen the wrong tense.

Rodrygo’s “but” in the first section of that clip fuelled other interpretations. The interviewer gave Rodrygo the opportunity to explain himself better — but the forward’s use of “let’s see” did not shut off speculation.

Rodrygo’s entourage soon gave their version to the media. They said he did not want to contribute to the discourse because, for them, there is no debate. “Rodrygo only wants to play for Madrid,” one source close to him said. They, like the others cited in this article, will remain anonymous to protect relationships.

Then the interview with El Desmarque — filmed a few minutes after DAZN’s — was published. Rodrygo was asked if he was happy at Madrid and replied: “Yes, yes, I am happy. It’s the club I’ve always dreamed of playing for, so I’m happy.”

The interviewer also asked him about the expected arrival of Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain. This season, journalists and fans have both suggested Rodrygo could be the fall guy when the Frenchman joins given he would be the player with the highest status whose role could be diminished.


Mbappe will leave PSG – what does this mean for him, the club and Real Madrid?

“I always say the same thing, that I always want to play with the best,” Rodrygo said. “If Mbappe comes, I’d love to play with him. As I said: it’s not a problem for me, it’s a problem for the coach.”

Madrid have always been keen to stress in private that Mbappe’s potential signing did not mean they would have to move other players on. The club have even called journalists on occasion to correct reports that suggested otherwise.

Club sources did not appreciate Rodrygo’s words given how close the Champions League final is. They do not want anything to divert attention from Saturday’s match against Dortmund at Wembley.

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Another explanation for Rodrygo’s statements was the need to defend himself. The Brazilian has been singled out as the player likely to be the main casualty of Mbappe signing, something that is not easy to accept for someone who has become a regular starter at Madrid — only Federico Valverde and Antonio Rudiger have played more than his 3,616 minutes this season.

But it has been a tough campaign for Rodrygo. He has played in several positions and has struggled for consistency, scoring 17 goals and providing nine assists in 50 appearances. He was frank about his problems with playing as a No 9 in Carlo Ancelotti’s hybrid 4-4-2 system in an interview with radio station COPE in November.

“With my characteristics, it doesn’t suit me very well,” he said. “I like to touch the ball a lot and I can’t play as much as a No 9.”

On Tuesday night, Rodrygo addressed the speculation over his future in a post on X.

“A very annoying situation happened today where one of my interviews was completely taken out of context,” he said.

“To be very direct, I am VERY happy at Real Madrid, I live a dream every day and it does NOT cross my mind to leave the club of my life!

“Now we continue with history to be made. Let’s go for the 15th. HALA MADRID Y NADA MAS!”

Eric, his father and agent, did the same on Instagram.

“It’s getting boring, everything has to be down to the smallest detail,” he said. He added that the family were going through “a very difficult time”, referring to the death of Rodrygo’s maternal grandmother last Friday, which is why his parents are in Brazil.

“Rodrygo is happy. Rodrygo dreamed and fought like crazy to get his space. Rodrygo only thinks about becoming a champion on Saturday. Please don’t take things out of context, especially at this moment.

“Whoever knows him knows that he is a real Madridista.”

But Rodrygo echoed his words hinting he could leave in another interview that surfaced on Wednesday morning with Brazilian outlet Placar TV — recorded a few weeks ago. He was asked again about Mbappe’s arrival, whether he planned to stay for “many years” at Madrid and whether it depended on the club’s expectations.



Would Kylian Mbappe upset Real Madrid’s perfect balance up front?

“It also depends,” he said. “Of course I want to stay here for many years. I want to be here as long as I feel that I help and I’m important for the team. And from the moment when I see that I’m no longer important, maybe it’s time to look for another place.

“I don’t think that’s what’s happening at the moment and I’m not thinking about it. I always dreamed of playing here, it was always my favourite club. I have everything here, I am making a dream come true, I am already a champion of everything and as long as I am important I want to continue here.”

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Fans and media have suggested Rodrygo could be the fall guy for Mbappe (Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

The interviewer went on to ask him if he could see himself playing in any other league.

“The Premier League is a league that everybody likes, I am not going to close doors to any other league,” he said. “Everyone knows that my dream is always to play for Real Madrid — I want to be here, but everything can be discussed. But my objective is to continue here.”

According to sources consulted by The Athletic, the interview summed up Rodrygo’s perspective: he has no doubts about wanting to stay at Madrid, but if he loses his status he would consider other options — like any other player would.

It is too early to talk about a move elsewhere, but various Premier League sides have long been interested in him.

What is certain is that it is worth keeping an eye on Rodrygo in the near future.

(Top photo by Diego Souto/Getty Images)

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