Cristiano Ronaldo has committed his future to Real Madrid, saying he plans to stay with Los Blancos until the end of his current contract, which expires in 2018.
Speaking to Madrid-based daily Marca (h/t ESPN FC), the Portugal international said he doesn't know where he'll go once his contract runs out, but he has no plans to leave the Spanish capital before then:
This is the best league in the world, although I have been in the Premier League. It is stupendous, competitive and with great players. It is a privilege to leave my mark here. I want to stay on a few more years and then we shall see what my future is. The two years that I am referring to are what are left on my contract.
The news should put an end to the speculation that has persisted throughout the 2015-16 campaign, as Ronaldo has been continuously linked with a move to Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.
Per Sport's Alejandro Alcazar, the three-time Ballon d'Or winner dropped several hints he would be open to such a move, angering Real Madrid president Florentino Perez in the process.
Even the local media didn't take kindly to Ronaldo's actions, with Marca questioning the 31-year-old's intentions (h/t sports writer Jonas Giaever):
Jonas Giæver @CheGiaevara
"WHAT IS CRISTIANO PLAYING AT?" - Marca tomorrow are not happy about Ronaldo's PSG flirt https://t.co/4gCyComIRJ2015-11-7 00:45:00
Last year's La Liga top scorer has already found the net 19 times in 23 starts this season, per WhoScored.com, and he remains one of Real's top attacking threats. During the same interview with Marca, he said he believes he'll finish the season as Spain's top scorer once again: "I'd tell the person who engraved my name on the [Pichichi] trophy to be ready next year as well."
Los Blancos will need him to keep on scoring at such an impressive rate, as the club currently sits four points behind rivals Barcelona in the La Liga standings, with the Blaugrana holding a match in hand.
While the title race is far from over, the Blaugrana have looked untouchable at times this season and are unlikely to drop many points against Spain's smaller clubs. It will be up to Real to close the gap in direct confrontations and Ronaldo to decide those clashes.
Finally, Ronaldo asked the Real fans to “to keep doing what they are doing, to keep supporting us” and highlighted the UEFA Champions League as a trophy the club is desperate to win in 2016.