Reports this week came out in Spanish newspapers claiming that Cristiano Ronaldo would soon be offered a new contract raising his pay to €15 million a year.
What may be slightly more surprising, is that many of these newspapers also reported that Ronaldo may refuse the new deal (via Marca). Whether he does sign a new contract or not, there are several reasons why the Portuguese striker might leave Real Madrid this year.
Here are five of those reasons.
(All stats based on ESPN data unless otherwise noted.)
Since his now-famous interview after the Granada game in which Ronaldo didn’t celebrate any of his goals, his relationship with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has soured. Ronaldo explained his gesture after the game by stating publicly that he “was sad, and the club knows why” (via The Guardian).
This was too much for Perez, who became very irritated that his multi-million euro signing was "unhappy." He later met with Ronaldo to discuss the issue and since then a tension has existed between the president and his star signing (via The Independent).
Although it would make little sense for Perez to let his prize star leave in an election year (Real Madrid will hold a vote in which Perez will present himself as candidate in the summer), the negotiation for Ronaldo’s new contract might just be that much more tense.
Ronaldo’s unhappiness is believed to be linked to what he perceives as a lack of support from inside Real Madrid as an institution (via ESPN). When the player came under criticism in the media he felt no official voice from the club came out in his defense, a mistake he has had trouble getting over.
Messi has won the three last Ballon d'Or
When Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009 he was a man on a mission. In 2008 he had dominated the world football stage, receiving the Ballon d’Or and catapulting Manchester United to a Premier League-UCL double.
But 2009 was Lionel Messi’s year, and the little Argentine wrestled both Ballon d’Or and Champions League medal from Ronaldo.
When the Portuguese star signed for Real Madrid as the main symbol of a new Galactico era, on a personal level it meant he wanted to compete directly with Lionel Messi. By playing in the same league, for the archrivals of Barcelona, Ronaldo wanted to end the debate of who was the best player once and for all.
In many ways the debate has ended. Only not with the outcome the Portuguese wished.
Messi went on to win two more successive Ballon d’Ors, and looks well on track to win a historic fourth. For every record Ronaldo broke with Real Madrid, Messi would break two. The constant reminder that there is a better player in the same league may well have become unbearable for the Portuguese; he may think putting some distance between him and Messi by changing leagues could be a solution.
Ronaldo has accustomed all football fans to such an incredible level of football that the last few months have felt slightly underwhelming compared to what the Portuguese has produced in the past.
This season he has dropped to third position in the Pichichi race, scoring 14 goals—three less than Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao and 12 behind Messi (or 11 if you read Marca). By this stage last season he had already scored 21 goals, the season before that he had scored 20. So far this season he has a lower goal-per-minute scoring ratio than Higuain even though he is the designated penalty taker.
His goals-per-shot ratio has also dropped dramatically. Ronaldo scores with just under 12 percent of his shots; Messi’s effectiveness is 28.9 percent and Falcao’s 27.5 percent. In fact, he has the worst goals-per-shot rate of the top 10 scorers in La Liga, and by some margin.
If this uneasy run continues, changing teams may provide the boost he needs to reach the level he was on in previous seasons.
This is yet another battle Ronaldo has lost in comparison to Messi. While Messi is revered as an idol just short of some kind of god in the Camp Nou, Ronaldo is regularly questioned and occasionally booed by some of his own fans at the Bernabeu (via The Telegraph).
Although a majority of Madridistas strongly support the striker, a minority doesn't. Perhaps they have chosen sides in the internal conflicts of Madrid’s dressing room that oppose the coach and a group of Portuguese players, including Ronaldo, to a group of Spanish players including captains Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.
Although you could argue he basically brought the La Liga title back to Madrid against the strongest Barcelona side in history, some Madridistas made sure he knows he has a long way to go before receiving the unanimous support of Los Blancos’ faithful.
After three years of giving it all for his club, leading them to trophies and breaking the domination of their archrival Barcelona, Ronaldo may feel he’s done quite enough and decide that if the fans are not happy, then he’ll just move along somewhere his talents will be better appreciated.
It seems increasingly clear that José Mourinho will be gone from Real Madrid by the start of the 2013-14 season.
Whether it is to PSG or a return to the Premier League, there is a chance that he will take his protégé with him. Despite Carlo Ancelotti’s recent statement that Ronaldo would not be tempted by money, it may well be that he would appreciate playing with a little less pressure on his shoulders and in a country where the media is far less intrusive and critical.
Another factor that may influence Ronaldo’s career plan is none other than his agent, Jorge Mendes. Mendes is both Mourinho and Ronaldo’s agent, as well as a number of other Madrid players including Pepe and Angel di Maria, and he would benefit directly from any new multi-million transfer Ronaldo would be involved in.