The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is on the brink of signing for Juventus.
“Real Madrid CF communicates that, in response to the will and request expressed by the player Cristiano Ronaldo, he has agreed to transfer to Juventus FC,” the Spanish club’s statement read.
“Today, Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude to a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football.
Beyond the conquered titles, the trophies achieved and the triumphs achieved in the playing fields during these 9 years, Cristiano Ronaldo has been an example of dedication, work, responsibility, talent and improvement.”
The Portuguese star bows out as Madrid’s all-time top scorer with 451 goals in 438 games.
Since leaving Manchester United, he amassed 16 titles at the Bernabeu, including four Champions Leagues in the last five seasons.
“For Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of his great symbols and a unique reference for the next generations.
Real Madrid will always be your home,” the statement concluded.
A headline in the La Gazzetta dello Sport read “Hello Ronaldo”, indicating that the transfer was all-but done.
While no details of the conversation were released by the newspaper, other reports revealed he had discussed tactics.
Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes is expected to be in Madrid on Tuesday when Los Blancos’ directors are scheduled to meet, according to La Gazzetta.
Juve are keen to sign the Portugal superstar on a four-year deal, with an annual basic salary of €30 million.
Meanwhile, Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri also revealed on Twitter that Ronaldo would be meeting Juventus president Andrea Agnelli in Greece on Tuesday.
He also apparently shared pictures of the Juve president at the Pisa Airport, leaving for Kalamata, Greece, on Tuesday morning to meet the Whites legend.
WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Pictures of Juventus president this morning at Pisa airport leaving for Kalamata, Greece, to meet Cristiano Ronaldo pic.twitter.com/IMdutAOjHq
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 10, 2018
All roads lead to Turin for Cristiano Ronaldo, who is threatening to actually make good on his oft-repeated threat to leave Real Madrid.
But if the arrival of a footballing icon is supposed to put Serie A back on the map then someone hasn’t being reading the signposts clearly.
Some English folk will talk wistfully of an era when the national team was reassuringly dreadful and the Premier League was little more than 11-a-side mud wrestling.
For cultural enlightenment and foreign mystique there was always Football Italia (Saturday mornings, Channel Four) which seems so unlike our own brand of calcio as to be a different game entirely.
This was the domain of Roberto Baggio and Gabriel Batistuta, Zinedine Zidane and Paolo Maldini. Players from our own isles, such as Paul Gascoigne and David Platt, were slightly fortunate if esteemed guests.
Then the millennium came and with it the power drain of Italian football, left behind in the money grab and sustaining self-inflicted wounds ranging from complacency with its global appeal to the chaos of match-fixing scandals. There have been good sides – Champions League winning sides – in the years since but Serie A’s footprint as a product had been trampled over long ago.
FROM THE ASHES
Over the last few years, though, the league has picked itself back up. Ronaldo won’t be the handsome mask for its deficiencies – he’ll be merely drawing attention to the quality which has already returned.
The 33-year-old will be joining a Juventus side seeking their eighth Serie A title in a row yet only secured its seventh by winning a rare hard-fought race in Europe.
Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich were all more or less on the winners’ podium in their respective leagues by the first breaths of spring.
Though a close-run thing is no indicator of quality in and of itself, Juve’s Serie A rivals have all subtly made a series of small steps which now should be seen as a collective giant leap.
Napoli pulled up just before the finish line last season powered by a core of top-notch talent in Kalidou Koulibaly, Jorginho, Lorenzo Insigne, Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens.
Some will inevitably depart but the Neapolitans are not going to watch their team be picked apart by the vultures. Udinese’s Alex Meret, one of the top goalkeeper prospects in Italy, has just signed and 22-year-old Real Betis midfielder Fabian Ruiz has been cherry-picked from La Liga.
A shrewd former La Liga operator in Monchi is also transforming Roma. Hope has not just come in the form of reaching the Champions League semi-finals but also their transfer policy, as the former Sevilla mover-and-shaker has hoovered up Ajax young gun Justin Kluivert and Atalanta tyro Bryan Cristante.
Roma have departed with Radja Nainggolan but his talent will stay in the league with Inter Milan, who are poking their heads above the parapet and then some backed by Chinese monoliths Suning Corp.
Nary a transfer rumour story goes by without the mention of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, but he will command a monster fee should he leave an upwardly mobile Lazio – and it will likely be reinvested to the betterment of the league.
AC Milan’s FFP breach and the cloudiness surrounding the club’s prospective sale is worrying but in truth, it is one of the few black marks against Serie A’s return to prominence.
Serie A bosses are also beginning to open themselves to innovation, too, with streaming service DAZN now holding the rights to games in Italy.
It is a blow that the international rights are locked up for the next three seasons for €370 million a year – Ronaldo could feasibly have doubled that by himself – but the commercial and advertising appeal is there to be exploited.
So when the whole world tunes in to see CR7 in black and white, don’t be surprised by the colourful bigger picture.