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Lyon’s Mariano open to Real Madrid return, eyeing spot in Spain squad

Lyon’s Mariano open to Real Madrid return, eyeing spot in Spain squad
Mariano was sold to Lyon by Real Madrid in the summer.

Lyon striker Mariano is not ruling out a return to Real Madrid one day, with the Spanish club having first option on the player if he is sold in the future.

Mariano moved to Lyon in an €8 million deal in the summer and is tied to the club until June 2022.

The 24-year-old has been sensational, scoring 15 goals and setting up three more in 26 league starts for fourth-place Lyon, and his performances have fuelled speculation that Madrid may want to bring him back at the end of the season.

“It’s a possibility that doesn’t depend on me, but why not?” Mariano told Marca when asked if he was interested in a return to Madrid.

“It would be marvellous to return one day to Real Madrid. Real Madrid owns a percentage of my rights for a future transfer and moreover, have a priority option on me.”

Mariano revealed last month that while Madrid do not have a buy-back option on him, they do own 35 percent of his sporting rights.

He scored five goals in 14 appearances in all competitions for Madrid last season and said he followed coach Zinedine Zidane’s advice by joining Lyon in search of regular first-team opportunities.

Mariano left Madrid for first-team opportunities, which he has found at Lyon.

“It was a difficult decision to leave a club like Real Madrid that has seen you grow up for so many years — more so when it’s the best club in the world,” Mariano said. “But at the same time, I look at the positives as I’ve joined a big club with new aims. I’m very happy to have arrived here and with how things are going for me.

“I feel very important and that was the aim and why I came here. Zidane recommended that I come here as the departure of Alexander Lacazette [to Arsenal] would be a good opportunity for me and I thought so, too. It was the right move. Had Zidane told me to stay, I probably would have. I had other options but the one that convinced me the most was the one of Lyon. I’ve adapted well and the truth is that I’ve had a great reception since the beginning.”

Mariano also believes that playing for Lyon now allows him to chase his dream of one day representing Spain, as coach Julen Lopetegui said in December that he was monitoring Mariano.

Born in Spain, Mariano represented the Dominican Republic, where his mother was born, in one friendly in 2013.

“It’s a dream I’ve had since I was a boy to play for La Roja,” he said. “I know it depends on me and on continuing to play at the good level I’m showing in order to be selected.

“I know that I’m being monitored alongside with many other players and I’m grateful for that.”

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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