Why Real Madrid is already taking Ronaldo’s departure for granted

Sources from the soccer club say they have grown tired of the player’s constant threats to leave, and are waiting for Italian team Juventus to complete a €100m transfer deal

Eleonora Giovio
Cristiano Ronaldo in Moscow, after Portugal crashed out of the World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo in Moscow, after Portugal crashed out of the World Cup.VASILY MAXIMOV (AFP)
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Cristiano Ronaldo quits Real Madrid, signs for Juventus

Real Madrid is taking for granted that the era of Cristiano Ronaldo at the soccer club is practically over. The agent for the Portuguese superstar, Jorge Mendes, has already informed the general manager of the club, José Ángel Sánchez, that the 33-year-old player has decided to go to Italy’s Juventus F.C., which is the only team that had not shut the door to Ronaldo and has made him an offer.

The release clause in Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract, which runs until 2021, involves a payment of €1 billion, but the price that the Madrid club has opted for is €100 million – four times what they paid for him in 2009.

The release clause in Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract, which runs until 2021, involves a payment of €1 billion

In the offices of the club’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium they are waiting for Juve to get the funds together, and call them to arrange the transfer deal.

Sources from Real say that the situation with Ronaldo, who has been their star player for years now, has gone “too far.” His continuous game-playing of “I’m staying, I’m leaving,” has exhausted the patience of everyone there. The straw that broke the camel’s back was undoubtedly his behavior in Kiev at the end of May, when, after Real Madrid had beaten Liverpool and won the Champions League final, without a goal from Ronaldo, the Portuguese player made statements throwing his future with the club into doubt.

“Over the next few days I will give a reply to the fans, they have always been on my side,” he told reporters while still on the pitch, just minutes after the Champions League win. “It was really nice being in Real Madrid,” he added. Hours later, he said that he could not confirm whether he was going to continue and stated that things “are not sorted out with money alone,” and that “life is not just about glory.” Having lacked the limelight during the game, he certainly basked in it after it was over, this time in front of the cameras and microphones.

This situation could not continue, according to club sources. His move to Juve, where chairman Andrea Agnelli is planning on making him a fundamental cornerstone of the team, is considered to be the best solution for both parties.

Having lacked the limelight during the Champions League game, he certainly basked in it after it was over

The day after the Champions League win, during the club’s celebrations, Cristiano flinched. He said goodbye to the fans with a “Thank you, and until next year,” while his teammates surrounded him singing: “Cristiano, stay!” He addressed the fans who had assembled in the Bernabéu stadium to thanks them. “I’m really happy to see your passion, with these players and coaches who give me reasons to be better every day,” he said. “It gives me great pride to play in this club, the greatest in the world,” he continued.

Less than two weeks later, before Portugal headed to the Russia 2018 World Cup, the Portuguese daily Record splashed on its front page that the player had decided to leave Real Madrid this summer and that the decision was “irreversible.” The same thing had happened the summer before, ahead of the Confederations Cup. On that occasion, it was A Bola that ran a story saying that Ronaldo had decided to leave Spain, given that he was tired with his problems with the Spanish Tax Office. That decision was also described as “irreversible.”

Cristiano stayed. But every time that he could, he would knock the ball into the court of the Madrid chairman, Florentino Pérez, saying that it was not up to him as to whether he saw out his career at Real. He stated that he wanted to retire wearing their white kit, but that he was not in charge of that decision. Cristiano was looking for a pay rise, an improvement on the €23 million he currently takes home, taking him closer to the €37 million that Neymar is paid and the nearly €50 million that Messi gets.

Cristiano was looking for a pay rise, to take him closer to Neymar’s €37m and Messi’s nearly €50m

Real Madrid was not willing to offer him that kind of money, however, on the basis that he already went from €18 million to €23 million when his contract was last renegotiated.

The Portuguese player, who will turn 34 in February, has a contract in place with Real Madrid until 2021. If Juve eventually gets together the €350 million needed for the transfer, salary and commissions, Ronaldo will be leaving the Spanish capital three years before he was planning to when he signed his latest contract in November 2016. “Soccer has no memory, but you do,” he said to the club chairman, Florentino Pérez, at that signing ceremony. “And Real Madrid does too. I want to carry on making history.” All the other contract renewal signings had taken place in the press room, but on this occasion Pérez bowed to the wishes of Cristiano and he signed in the presidential box. Ronaldo wanted to feel unique.

But now he will be doing so at another club, and in another league, where, should the deal be done, he can see out his career while still being the indisputable leader of the team. With 450 goals in 438 games at Madrid, Ronaldo will be leaving the club’s attack orphaned. But at Real they are already looking closely at the plans of Neymar, who will be the main candidate to replace Cristiano.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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