By now, it’s common knowledge that Cristiano Ronaldo wants out of Real Madrid.
The Portuguese forward’s ongoing row with Spanish authorities over allegations of unpaid tax have led to his disillusionment with the country, and his belief that he is not getting enough support from his club has only exacerbated the situation.
While his desire to leave is without question at this stage, the extent of his fury with Real themselves has, according to reports on Saturday, made the situation irrevocable.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Richard Martin of Reuters has claimed that Ronaldo’s people called the major Spanish newspapers to tip them off of the impending front page headline in Portuguese outlet A Bola. He does, however, feel that this will end in the 32-year-old receiving a wage increase to offset his unhappiness:
“This is not the first time Cristiano Ronaldo has sought to demonstrate his power at Real Madrid by flirting with leaving. In 2012 he used a pitch-side interview to declare “I’m sad and the club know why,” provoking panic among fans and at boardroom level.
“This latest move, using a newspaper from his own country to declare his discontent, feels remarkably similar.”
Madrid-based journalist Pete Jenson, however, feels that Real are far less likely to call his bluff. Their desire to sign Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe is apparently so strong that they will not stand in Ronaldo’s way should he try to leave the club. Also speaking to the BBC, Jenson said:
“Ronaldo’s intention of leaving Real Madrid may well come to nothing, but if he does not back down and looks to force his way out of the club, Madrid will not stand in his way providing they find a club prepared to make it worth their while.
“Madrid would probably accept closer to 150m euros (£131m) and immediately look to reinvest it in 18-year-old Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe.”
Spanish publications Marca and AS, meanwhile, both lead with the story on Saturday. As always, take their reports with a pinch of salt, but the former have quoted Ronaldo as saying to his teammates on international duty with Portugal:
“I’m leaving Madrid, I’m determined. There’s no turning back.”
The latter, meanwhile, claim that Ronaldo had already made up his mind to leave before the recent Champions League final, in which he had a starring role by scoring twice, but was advised by agent Jorge Mendes to say nothing at the time so as not to disrupt the final itself.
In any event, it should be a very interesting summer ahead for Ronaldo.
Former Cork City defender Neal Horgan joined us in studio this week on the Mixer Irish Football Podcast to dissect Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Austria last weekend.