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Real Madrid's Mariano not weighed down by Cristiano Ronaldo's No. 7 shirt

Lionel Messi says the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo has weakened rivals Real Madrid.

Mariano has said he is determined to be a success at Real Madrid despite many people criticising the decision to hand him the No. 7 shirt.

Cristiano Ronaldo had worn the shirt from 2010, when Raul left to join Schalke and it was expect that, after the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's departure to Juventus, Real Madrid would bring in a big-name replacement to take the shirt.

However, Mariano, who returned this summer after a season with Lyon, believes that too much is being made of it, though he admitted he is excited at the prospect of following in the footsteps of so many great players.

"I think [that taking the number] it is the least import thing," Mariano said. "Yes [it weighs heavy], but it was free, it's a number that I like and it's a personal challenge.

"I'm happy to wear the No. 7 [shirt], following Amancio, Juanito, [Emilio] Butragueno and Raul... and since I was a kid, I've seen them play with him ... And Cristiano Ronaldo, of course.

"It was free, all Real Madrid fans know it, and they tell me what number I wanted to wear. I asked what numbers are free. And I said: 'I like the No. 7.'

"Many people have told me [that it was very bold to take it]. Other people have told me bad things. Not bad but that there is pressure in weaing that number.

"Others have told me that I have been brave and others that I should not have taken it. I'm not thinking about it [the pressure], just training every day to the maximum to be able to enjoy minutes."

Sevilla were close to signing the striker but Real Madrid swooped in at the 11th hour. Mariano said he was taken by complete surprise by the call so late in the transfer window.

"I didn't have his phone number, I didn't know who it was," Mariano said of the phone call from Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui. "I wasn't expecting a call at that moment.

"He told me he'd love if I would come back and I told him the same and he explained everything to me. Sevilla were interested in me.

"That is something which I appreciated very much but then Madrid called, which is the club of my dreams and here I am. They knew that the club I love is Madrid, so I guess they have to understand."

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