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Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo is signing for Juventus

Reports in Spanish media say fee could reach 105 million euros (US$120 million), with the 33-year-old signing a four-year contract worth 30 million euros per season.

Tuesday 10 July, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed a move to Juventus, leaving Real Madrid after a glory-laden nine years. The Spanish club say the Portuguese star requested the move.
Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed a move to Juventus, leaving Real Madrid after a glory-laden nine years. The Spanish club say the Portuguese star requested the move. Foto:AFP

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Real Madrid on Tuesday announced the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Italy's Juventus, with the Portuguese superstar saying the time had come "for a new stage" in his life.

"Today Real Madrid wants to give thanks to a player who has demonstrated he is the best in the world and who marked one of the most brilliant periods in the history of our club and world football," the club said in a statement.

It did not give any details as to the amount of the transfer but Spanish media reports have said it could reach 105 million euros (US$120 million), with the 33-year-old signing a four-year contract worth 30 million euros per season.

In a letter posted on Real Madrid's website, the multiple Ballon d'Or winner said his time in Madrid had been one of the happiest in his life.

"I only have feelings of huge thanks for this club, for the fans and for this city," he said. "But I think the time has come to open a new stage in my life and that's why I asked the club to accept to transfer me. I ask everyone, and especially our supporters, to please understand me."

Ronaldo, whose Portugal were knocked out of the World Cup last 16 by Uruguay, hinted after May's Champions League victory against Liverpool that he was considering leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

"It was very nice to be in Madrid," he said at the time, using the past-tense. He later played down the statement, but doubts over his future at Madrid lingered.

Real Madrid has won the La Liga twice and the Champions league four times since Ronaldo moved there from Manchester United in 2009.

New stage

The shock move by the 33-year-old superstar comes shortly after losing what is likely his last chance to collect the only honour missing from his glittering resume -- a World Cup for Portugal. 

Speculation that one of the game's greatest players could be up for grabs began when he hinted he was considering leaving the Santiago Bernabeu following May's Champions League final victory. Then the transfer rumour mill went into overdrive after Italian media said Juventus had put in a bid and Spanish sports daily Marca cited reports of Ronaldo looking for a home in Turin.

There was little left for Ronaldo, Real's all-time record goalscorer with 450, to prove in Madrid.

He said he had spent nine fantastic years at the Spanish giants. He is also a five-time world player of the year, a record he shares with his eternal rival, Argentine talisman Lionel Messi.

But in 2016 Ronaldo managed what Messi could not – winning a major international title for his country – when he led Portugal to victory in the European Championships.

And with both Portugal and Argentina being bundled out of the World Cup in the second round on June 30, it seems likely that the sport's crowning achievement will elude both partners in football's greatest player rivalry.

Destined for greatness

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was special from an early age. 

In the year of his 16th birthday, he played for Sporting Lisbon's under-16, under-17, under-18, reserve and first teams, and two years later he so impressed Alex Ferguson in a 2003 pre-season friendly that the then-Manchester United boss snapped him up.

Six years, three Premier League titles and a Champions League later and he was on his way to Real Madrid, having joined George Best and Eric Cantona among the greatest players to wear United's prized number seven shirt.

Bought for a then-world record 94 million euros, Ronaldo more than paid back his fee, and while Barcelona continued to mostly dominate La Liga, he has become the king of European competition.

He was the first player to score 100 Champions League goals, and topped the competition's scoring charts six times. The 17 goals he scored as Real beat local rivals Atletico to the 2014 title remains a single-season record.

He finally got the international monkey off his back with the 2016 Euros win after a lifetime of near misses and flattering to deceive on the world stage.

In beating the heavily-favoured hosts France in the final, he broke yet another record – his three goals made him the first player to ever score in four European Championships. 

Last World Cup?

Ronaldo also became only the fourth player to score in four World Cups when he started this year's campaign with a hat-trick against Spain that culminated in a stunning free kick. 

But he only bagged one more goal before Portugal fell to Uruguay, and will be 37 by the time the next global showpiece rolls around – meaning it is unlikely he will improve on a run to the semi-finals in 2006.  

On the same day Messi, with whom Ronald has long competed for the title of the world's best, was sent home empty-handed by a French side inspired by a breathtaking performance from 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé.

The World Cup in Russia may serve as a changing of the guard at the highest echelons of the sport, with Real Madrid forced this week to deny it made bids for both Mbappe and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar.

But whoever replaces Ronaldo may find it tough going filling his shoes.

And Ronaldo will be looming at Juventus in European competitions as he continues to rack up records and build his case for being considered the greatest of all time.

- AFP

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