Ruud van Nistelrooy believes his recovery from a serious knee injury has given him the confidence to stick it out and fight for playing time at Real Madrid.
Madrid has spent about euro250 million ($360 million) to revamp its squad, buying scoring threats Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Kaka. Despite the wealth of talent, the 33-year-old Van Nistelrooy is confident he can break into coach Manuel Pellegrini’s line-up even with Gonzalo Higuain and captain Raul Gonzalez ahead in the pecking order.
“The easiest thing for me to have done would have been to leave for a lesser team. But I’m not going to leave Real Madrid,” Van Nistelrooy said. “I want to know what I’m capable of. There are still a lot of options when it comes to playing.”
Van Nistelrooy said it was just a matter of time before he got back to his best form.
“I know I can play at the highest level. Physically, I feel better than before the injury,” he said. “I only need to find my rhythm and that will come with matches.”
Van Nistelrooy had been sidelined by knee surgery since last November.
The Dutchman has scored 60 goals in 89 appearances and won two league trophies since joining from Manchester United in 2007. He was the Spanish league’s leading scorer during the 2006-07 season.
“The doctor who operated on me said that I could play three more years and then when I retire from football I won’t have any problems,” Van Nistelrooy said. “Before the injury I didn’t feel good. I lost three years.”