Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Real Madrid to sign with Italian champions Juventus, both clubs announced on Tuesday.
The reigning Ballon d’Or winner will end his nine-year spell at Real Madrid with a move to Turin following a reported rift with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez over a new contract.
“Real Madrid would like to communicate that we have listened to the wish and request expressed by player Cristiano Ronaldo and have agreed to his transfer to Juventus FC,” the Champions League holders said in a statement.
Juventus then confirmed the clubs had agreed on a transfer fee of €100 million (approximately $117 million) — a Serie A record — with the Italian club also paying €12 million in ancillary fees to land the 33-year-old Ronaldo, who signed a four-year contract.
Sources confirmed to ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti that Real Madrid were willing to match Juventus’ gross salary offer of around €55 million annually (approximately $64.5 million), but Ronaldo still opted to leave.
Ronaldo’s existing contract with Madrid had three years left to run at an estimated €38.5 million ($45.2 million) gross annually, making it worth significantly less than those of his fellow superstars — Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (€73.6 million) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar (€66 million) — despite the Portugal captain helping Madrid extend their record haul of European Cup trophies to 13.
And despite Ronaldo’s Madrid deal having an official release clause of €1 billion, they were willing to accept an offer worth 10 percent of that sum in order to free up space and capital to replenish their successful but ageing squad under new coach Julen Lopetegui.
Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s all-time top goal scorer, will leave the club after leading them to four Champions League titles — including three in as many years — and he claimed a host of personal accolades and records from his time in Spain, including four of his five Ballon d’Or awards.
He issued a statement through Real Madrid calling his time in the Spanish capital as possibly “the happiest years of my life.”
“These years at Real Madrid and in this city of Madrid have quite possibly been the happiest years of my life,” he wrote. “I only have feelings of great gratitude to this club, to the fans and to the city. I can only give thanks to all of them for the love and affection that I have received.
“However, I feel that the time has come to begin a new stage of my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept my transfer. I feel it this way and I am asking everyone, and especially my fans, to please understand me.”
Ronaldo signed his last contract with Madrid in November 2016, but reports said Perez had promised him a new deal after he helped the club win the Champions League in May 2017.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) July 10, 2018
Then last December, Ronaldo said he wanted a raise after helping Real win the Club World Cup. A month later, a source close to the player said Ronaldo felt betrayed by the Spanish giants for not getting a new contract.
In May, Ronaldo sparked speculation over his future again when, just moments after beating Liverpool in the Champions League final, he spoke about his time at the club in the past tense, saying, “It has been very nice being at Real Madrid.”
A lengthy case brought against him by the Spanish tax office — which sources said was settled last month when the former Manchester United player agreed to pay a total of €18.8 million — is another reason commonly cited for his desire to leave Spain.
Ronaldo will be tasked with bringing Champions League glory back to Juve, who have been European runners-up in two of the past four seasons despite winning their domestic league for seven straight years. Juventus have been crowned champions of Europe only twice, in 1985 and 1996.
After news of Ronaldo’s move, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook bumped Juventus from 12-1 to 7-1 odds to win the Champions League next season, while Real Madrid moved from 6-1 to 7-1. Barcelona and Manchester City remain the favourites.
Earlier on Tuesday, a source told ESPN that Juventus president Andrea Agnelli had flown to Greece, where Ronaldo is on a postseason break, to finalise the deal.
Ronaldo was taking time off following Portugal’s 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia — which ended in the round of 16 with a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay — after which he can join Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and the rest of the squad for preseason training.
Juventus will play four preseason games in the United States this summer — including the MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta on Aug. 1 and an International Champions Cup match against Real Madrid in Washington on Aug. 4.
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