Real deny rift over Mourinho
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez denied on Thursday a report that top players had demanded coach Jose Mourinho leave before next season, warning the club: "It's him or us."
Top sports daily Marca splashed on the front page its claim of an ultimatum delivered to chairman Florentino Perez on Tuesday.
"President, it's Mou or us," headlined the paper in its account of the meeting between captains Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos and the club management.
According to the paper, they told Perez that several players were ready to leave the club if the self-anointed "Special One" remained in charge for the next season.
"What was published is simply a lie," Perez told a news conference at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
"I have come to deny a report that is simply false and which, in my opinion, is aimed at destabilising the club."
Perez, a construction magnate, said he had met with Casillas and Ramos as well as Real Madrid director general Jose Angel Sanchez but denied the conversation described by Marca took place.
"The meeting was to agree on the bonuses to be given players for various competitions. It is completely false that during this meeting we received such an ultimatum," he said.
"Absolutely nobody from the newspaper called us to confirm the information that was published," he added.
Spanish media have been full of reports of a rift in the dressing room between Mourinho and heavyweights like Casillas and Ramos complaining about his aloof style.
Last week Marca reported that star striker Ronaldo clashed with Mourinho after the Portuguese coach accused him of having gone into hiding in the final quarter-of-an-hour of the side's unimpressive 2-0 Spanish Cup quarterfinal first leg win over Valencia.
Real Madrid supporters have also started to lose faith in Mourinho, according to a poll published in pro-Real Madrid Spanish sports newspaper Marca earlier this month.
While 54.4 percent said Mourinho should stay next season, 41.8 percent said it was time for him to go.
Mourinho was jeered at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium earlier this month after he benched Casillas for two matches in what has seen as an attempt to assert his authority.
Real Madrid won the Spanish league last year but are lagging in third this season with 40 points, 15 behind arch-rivals and leaders Barcelona.