As the Bale transfer was nearing completion, Madrid tried to persuade the media that they were paying less than £80 million for the former Spurs star. The club did not want the fee to be perceived as a new world record.
Nevertheless, thanks in part to Spurs’ own media campaign, there is a consensus that the deal was at least £85 million—meaning the Welshman topped Ronaldo as the most expensive player in the game.
Real feared the effect this news would have on Ronaldo’s fragile psyche. This is a player who has never been shy about expressing “unhappiness” when he feels slighted.
Terms of Ronaldo’s new contract have not been released, but initial reports (by the Telegraph, Daily Mail and BBC) place the contract at five years at a salary of almost £15 million. That tops what Lionel Messi earns at Barcelona by about £850,000 making Ronaldo the world’s highest-paid footballer.
With the new agreement, Real hopes to assuage whatever umbrage Ronaldo might have taken at the Bale deal. His salary would be nearly twice the reported £8.3 million per season the club will pay Bale.
That unquestionable status appeals to his ego probably even more than the additional salary will appeal to the Portuguese star’s bank manager.
Perhaps fittingly, this diplomatic move, the type in which club president Florentino Perez has has come to deal frequently, is announced the day after Real were held to a 2-2 league draw away to newly promoted Villarreal.
Sometimes results are secondary concerns for Los Blancos.
Handing Ronaldo a new deal—the player and president will hold a press conference to discuss it Sunday—after the close of the transfer window means that matters on the field can once again become the priority.
Neither forward was particularly impressive in the game against Villarreal (although Bale did get on the scoresheet), but head coach Carlo Ancelotti will be hopeful Ronaldo and the £85m man will mesh over the next few games.
"It was the first time they've played together and they will swap positions now and then because their movement is in towards goal from the wings,” the Italian said on Sunday.
"But they might change wings sometimes, it's nothing out of the ordinary."
One place Ronaldo’s contract extension might not be greeted with elation is Manchester. But, regardless of what some might say, the new deal does not end Manchester United’s hopes of luring their former star back to Old Trafford.
That would explain why he was lukewarm about Bale’s signing throughout the summer, and welcomed his new teammate with some robust challenges in their first training session together.
Given his attraction to the “most expensive” title, it is hard to believe Ronaldo would have let his contract run out in just over 18 months and returned to Old Trafford as a free agent.
He was always going to want United to pay a new world record to get him back. Now he enjoys a big pay raise while David Moyes and Manchester United officials decide whether they have the financial muscle to make that happen.
After Carlo Ancelotti said on Friday that he knew "Tottenham received a higher bid for Gareth Bale than the one from Real Madrid”, a story in Saturday’s L’Equipe claimed that United had made a late £125m offer for Bale.
While the unconfirmed story deserves skepticism (why would as tough a negotiator as Daniel Levy turn down an extra £40m, even from a league rival?), Moyes refused to deny it outright when asked about it on Saturday.
"I have said many times we are always bidding for the best players," Moyes reiterated to BT Sport.
If they are capable of offering that much for Bale, then they would be capable a similar deal to bring back Ronaldo. Real would not be under any pressure to sell, but Ronaldo has the leverage to force matters should he decide that he wants to return to the Premier League.
The new contract does not end Manchester United’s hopes for an eventual return for Ronaldo, then.
It just restores the delicate balance of egos at Real Madrid—for 12 months or so, at least.