Rafael Benitez has reportedly put his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo in further jeopardy by suggesting the Portuguese superstar undergo studies to improve his free-kick accuracy.
Ronaldo's set-piece goal in Real's 8-0 drubbing of Malmo in the Champions League on Dec. 8 was his first successfully converted free-kick in over six months, per Goal.com.
However, the 30-year-old reportedly left the room when the Madrid manager suggested he undergo a biometric study in an attempt to improve his strike-rate from dead balls, per Jose Felix Diaz of El Chiringuito (via the Irish Independent).
Since Benitez's installation as manager at the Bernabeu in the summer consistent rumours have circulated of a divide between Ronaldo and the Spaniard, per Ed Malyon in the Mirror.
The former Liverpool boss is unlikely to have enamoured himself further to Ronaldo by suggesting he needs to improve his free-kick taking. But he arguably has a point.
Though the three-time Ballon d'Or winner has developed a unique free-kick style and has scored some staggering goals in his career, his success rate is remarkably low:
In the Champions League, though he is one of the most successful free-kick takers of the last decade in terms of goals scored, his conversion rate is less than seven per cent, per Opta:
That is not good enough for a player of his quality, especially when compared with some of the other free-kick specialists in Europe, per WhoScored.com's Ben McAleer.
It seems strange that Ronaldo would not want to do all he could to improve his conversion rate, not least as it would likely help Real out of their current malaise.
Los Blancos cruised through to the knockout rounds in the Champions League, but defeat to Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday saw them drop five points back from joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo has cut an increasingly frustrated figure this season and reports of his potential departure from the Bernabeu in the summer have not been dispelled, per Sky Sports' Guillem Balague.
His reportedly poor relationship with Benitez has added fuel to that particular fire and their latest disagreement is likely to only inflame further rumours of Ronaldo's dissatisfaction at Madrid.