Mariano Diaz has revealed that being labelled as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid only motivates him, while speaking about the pressure of taking over the Ballon d’Or holder’s number seven shirt.
The 25-year-old forward rejoined Real Madrid for a reported €23m this summer, after spending a season at Lyon, where he netted 18 goals in Ligue 1.
The striker who came through Los Blancos’ youth system, before being sold under Zinedine Zidane, has taken the iconic number seven shirt at the Santiago Bernabeu – something he admits has attracted a fair amount of attention.
In an interview with ‘El Partidazo’ on the radio station COPE (as quoted via AS), Mariano said: “Well, many people have told me [I am brave for taking the shirt], other people have also told me bad things.
“It’s a pressure to carry that number, but others have told me that I should not have chosen it. I’ve had everything [said to me].
The one-cap Dominican Republic international revealed it was the ‘challenge’ to follow in the footsteps of club legends which motivated him to choose the number.
He continued: “It was a number that was free and to me it is a number that I like. It’s a personal challenge and I’m happy to wear the number that has been worn by many stars, like Amancio [Amaro], Juanito, [Emilio] Butragueno, Raul, and Cristiano, of course.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve seen them play and I’m happy.”
While hinting at the criticism and even anger his signing in the wake of Ronaldo’s exit has received from some fans, Mariano added that being labelled as a ‘replacement’ for the Portuguese only motivates him
He said: “It does not piss me off, it motivates me, if anything, it motivates me to be here every day.
Meanwhile, Mariano’s club mate Marco Asensio has admitted he does not want to finish career with the number 20 shirt.
When asked on El Partidazo if he would consider swapping with the Spain star, Mariano was committal.
“He has not told me anything, and I’ve been talking to him,” Mariano added. “I congratulated him for the two goals [against Croatia], we have a lot of affinity, he’s a great friend… If he asked me for the 7? I do not know, I would say ‘do you want it?'”