Inside Cristiano Ronaldo's Stunning Transfer from Real Madrid to JuventusJuly 10, 2018
Inside Cristiano Ronaldo's Stunning Transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus
It's the only football story on the planet capable of overshadowing the World Cup semi-finals: Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid to join Juventus.
Despite whispers for the past three seasons that he has been unhappy in Spain, the news still comes as a surprise—and there is little doubt that Juve have just made one of the most significant statements in their history.
Taking the CR7 brand across Europe to Turin gives the Bianconeri the platform to end Real's hold on the Champions League, continue to dominate Serie A and sees them feature the most-talked about player on the planet.
So now that we know Ronaldo has signed a four-year contract and will be wearing the black and white of Juve next term, let's look at how it all happened...
How Did the Move Come About?
Ronaldo barely had time to celebrate his fifth Champions League success before he dropped a huge hint that his time in a Real Madrid shirt was coming to an end.
In the minutes that followed their 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev, the club's most crucial player suggested to beIN Sports that a new challenge lay ahead.
"It was very nice to be at Real Madrid," he said (h/t the Irish Independent). "In the coming days, I will give a response to the fans, who have always been at my side."
His comments annoyed Madrid officials and frightened his adoring fans. But they weren't spontaneous; Ronaldo had been unhappy for much of the past season.
There were various aspects that had been frustrating him—with the club's refusal to boost his contract terms central to everything. But with his Spanish tax issue also a regular news item, his love of life in Spain is also understood to have waned.
Sources said he told his agent Jorge Mendes to sound out other clubs about possible moves as he headed to Russia for the World Cup, and by the time Madrid began to take the situation seriously, it was too late.
In a late bid to convince Ronaldo to stay, there was an openness to meet his new contract demands and accept that they should not have let the issue drag on. But Juventus put their offer on the table, and Ronaldo decided to leave.
Madrid made it absolutely clear in their statement of the sale that it was Ronaldo's decision to leave—not theirs to sell.
And the man himself declared (h/t Sky Sports): "I believe the time has come to open a new stage in my life, and that is why I asked the club to accept the club transfer me. I know the time has come for a new cycle."
As Mendes set about finding Ronaldo a new club, the options were limited.
Manchester United and PSG were both made aware of the situation, but sources told B/R that neither seemed in a position to move quickly enough to make the transfer happen. PSG in particular were held back by FFP regulations, having recently acquired Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for a combined £366 million.
That meant Juventus were given a clear run at completing a transfer they previously thought could never happen.
Funded by the Agnelli family, they were able to quickly assure all parties that they could pay £105 million for the transfer of the player and meet his personal terms without fuss.
A move to Turin was intriguing for Ronaldo. It came with a chance to win the Champions League again, as well as a very good opportunity to win a league title in a country in which he has never played. With Ronaldo now 33 years old, there is also a feeling Serie A is well suited to him.
How Will Real Deal with Losing Him?
This transfer is a major blow to Real—an embarrassment even.
Their most high-profile player has decided to walk away from the club, and Florentino Perez is under huge pressure to replace him with a Galactico fit to fill his boots.
They have made some preparations for this—the links to Neymar and Eden Hazard over the past year have been no coincidence. But Real never truly believed it would come to this, so now they are in a race to make something happen ahead of the new La Liga season.
Some top brass at the Bernabeu already felt the side needed refreshing, but they thought they would be able to do so in their own time. So who comes in?
The Neymar interest is genuine, but it's going to prove difficult to pull off. Impossible, even.
Sources at PSG are convinced that he is going to stay in Paris for at least one more season, and that means Eden Hazard has to be considered. Chelsea will now be fearful of the challenge they face in fighting off interest.
Hazard has been cagey in committing himself to the London club and has refused to give any true indication of where his future lies while he is at the World Cup.
The one factor Chelsea insiders feel could yet keep him at Stamford Bridge is that he may not have the ambition to push himself. And certainly he does not have the ego or character to be seen as a direct replacement for Ronaldo.
Don't rule out Kylian Mbappe from PSG either at this stage. While they felt Neymar was out of reach, PSG insiders believe Mbappe may prove available at the right price.
He may be well suited to the Madrid mentality and style, and he could help make up for the loss of one of the greatest players to ever wear their shirt.
What's the Long-Term Plan?
So, here's the twist: One of the advantages of moving to Juventus is that it could help Ronaldo fulfil his next objective, which is a move to America.
The Agnelli family are providing the funds that make this move possible, and their further investment in Ronaldo could help his MLS dream become reality.
They have had past discussions with Jorge Mendes about an investment project in the States involving Ronaldo, and their relationship now could naturally take him from Serie A to MLS when the time feels right.
At 33, Ronaldo is beginning to think about how to best see out his career, and his ultimate objective is to grow his brand and show his talent in America before hanging up his boots.
Juventus have made a huge statement by signing Ronaldo, but this could all be part of a much bigger picture.