Friday 15 December 2017

€150m: Real's massive price tag to take Ronaldo from Madrid

Ronaldo appears to be keen to seal a move back to Manchester United
Ronaldo appears to be keen to seal a move back to Manchester United

Jason Burt

Cristiano Ronaldo's advisers are telling clubs he wants to leave Real Madrid for a "fresh challenge", with a fee of €150m being mooted - and not because of the accusations of tax fraud he is facing in Spain.

Although that claim will be met with scepticism, not least because of the briefings from Ronaldo's camp last week, clubs are nevertheless being encouraged to believe he is serious in his desire to quit.

Having won the Champions League three times in four seasons, retaining it, and winning La Liga again, it is argued by sources close to Ronaldo that, aged 32, he wants to move on for football reasons and has done all he can in Madrid and in Spain.

However, Ronaldo signed a five-year deal with Real only last November. The buy-out clause is €1bn, which is obviously unachievable, but a world-record bid of €150m may be forthcoming.

That is the figure circulating in football and might tempt, in particular, Paris Saint-Germain to make such an offer while Manchester United remain interested, and could also go that high.

There could be a new suitor in Inter Milan, who are spending big under their Chinese ownership. If he leaves Madrid, Ronaldo wants to stay in Europe, which would rule out a move to China or the United States.

PSG are rebuilding and have earmarked a budget of €220m to sign up to six new players.

They have long courted Ronaldo and have an open dialogue with his agent, Jorge Mendes, who also represents PSG player Angel di Maria, who may be one of those to leave, and also James Rodriguez and Pepe, who are leaving Real and have been offered to PSG.

Further, PSG's sporting director Antero Henrique has a strong relationship with Mendes and also knows his fellow Portuguese, Ronaldo.

PSG have previously even pointed out to Ronaldo's representatives that Paris has the largest Portuguese community outside of Portugal in Europe - there are 1.2 million in the French capital - and he would be an instant hero at the club where the challenge is to win the Champions League for the first time.

United also remain a possibility and there is strong admiration for Ronaldo and the way he has reinvented himself as a central striker. The fact he is 32 is not a concern given the way he looks after himself and has not suffered any serious injuries.

However, United are wary given Ronaldo was expected to return to them in 2013, almost as Alex Ferguson's parting gift to his successor David Moyes, only to change his mind and sign a new deal at Real. It left United in the lurch.

United are already in talks with Real to sign striker Alvaro Morata and are trying to resist including David De Gea in any negotiations.

Ronaldo is with Portugal at the Confederations Cup and, despite the protestations that his desire to leave is not because of the tax case, it is undeniable that the revelation will deflect attention from the fact that he is accused of defrauding the Spanish tax office of €14.7m between 2011 and 2014. He denies the charge.

Last week Ronaldo's agency Gestifute released a statement which said: "There is no tax evasion scheme . . . There has never been any hiding nor any intention to hide anything."

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