Now that Cristiano Ronaldo will be at Real Madrid well past his 30th birthday, as announced Sunday on Real Madrid's official site, you wonder what those who predicted his return to the Premier League are thinking.
My sources in Spain tell me Ronaldo never had any intention of moving to Manchester United. There was contact between the two parties, and maybe he will be interested in a return to the Red Devils toward the end of his career, but Ronaldo was using all that speculation to get a better deal at Madrid—the place he thinks the best years of his career should be played out.
This truth will hurt some, but it remains exactly that—the truth.
Bearing in mind the fact the Madeira-born Galactico will be raking in a £14.25 million-a-year, according to ESPN—which, significantly, is more than rival Lionel Messi and new teammate Gareth Bale earn—it is easy to see why the clouds of gloom have been lifted from the superstar.
But why did it take him so long to put pen to paper?
The thing is that in the ego-driven world that is top-level Spanish football, nothing is ever that simple. My Madrid sources tell me Ronaldo would not sign until he saw how much they paid for new boy Gareth Bale. If they paid more than the €96m that they paid for him, Ronaldo would be "sad" again. Less than €96m, then he would be happy.
Actually, my inside knowledge of the deal tells me they paid €101m for the Welshman—although Real have told Ronaldo that the fee was €91m. For whatever reason, he has decided to believe them.
Secondly, and again via my Madrid sources here, he wanted the club to make all the right moves to reassure him that he really was their number one priority, and from the president (Florentino Perez) to the coach (Carl Ancelotti) and the fans, that is exactly what they’ve done.
But it’s not just the player who's happy. I can confirm, via my sources, that the deal was verbally agreed upon at the beginning of the summer and finalised in Los Angeles in August, but CR and his people decided they would sign it when they wanted to, not when Madrid wanted them to.
Perez wanted to be able to announce Ronaldo's re-signing before his meeting with the season-ticket holders on September 22 to ensure a smooth, hassle-free meeting, and at least he’s managed that.
The truth is that while Cristiano and his entourage flirted a bit with former love Manchester United, I have always thought the only place he has ever wanted to stay is Real, where he still feels he has some unfinished business.
That includes the breaking of goal-scoring records (he currently has 203 goals from 203 games) and the acquisition of that stubbornly elusive 10th European title, "La Decima."
Before everybody gets too happy at the Bernabeu, they would do well to address some of the problems they look like they could be facing on the pitch. Gareth Bale scored on his debut, so at least he got that particular monkey off his back, but he does not look anything close to his best—much as Luca Modric did not after he signed with Los Blancos.
It’s around mid-season that the effects of missing out on pre-season could really kick in, and that doesn’t bode well either for Bale or the club.
Ancelotti looks to have declared his hand early and will be looking for Bale, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to form his main strike force.
Their real problem, however, would seem to be in midfield, where they were simply overpowered by newly promoted Villarreal. Had it not been for former Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez, the man of the match by a country mile, Real would have left the Madrigal having suffered their first league defeat of the season.
Ancelotti has a lot of work to do. If he fails to manage it, there could be a lot of "sad" people at the Bernabeu again.
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