“I’m sad, when I don’t celebrate goals it’s because I’m not happy,” said Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring a brace in Real Madrid’s 3-0 defeat of Granada a week last Sunday. “It’s a professional thing. Real Madrid know why I’m not happy.”
This is a drama that has dominated the Spanish press for more than a week now, with the former Manchester United forward seemingly wanting more money, additional limelight, or his ego stroking depending on the source. Probably all three. Pundits across the country have lined up to offer their tuppence worth, while Madrid’s players have – to a man it seems – proclaimed that Ronaldo is far from suicidal.
Whatever the truth, there is no doubt the Portuguese is enjoying the attention; the man who “can’t walk past a mirror without checking himself,” as former team-mate Wayne Rooney put it this week.
“I’m sad, when I don’t celebrate goals it’s because I’m not happy,” said Ronaldo last Sunday.
“It’s a professional thing. Real Madrid know why I’m not happy. That I am feeling sad and have expressed this sadness has created a huge stir. I am accused of wanting more money, but one day it will be shown that this is not the case.
“At this point, I just want to guarantee to the Real Madrid fans that my motivation, dedication, commitment and desire to win all competitions will not be affected. I have too much respect for myself and for Real Madrid to ever give less to the club than all I am capable of.”
Not that United has been left out of the fun, with the Mirror reporting that Reds manager Sir Alex Ferguson has demanded the Glazers ‘bring Ronaldo home’ – whatever the astronomical cost. Adding to the intrigue, there is little secret that Ronaldo is in regular communication with both Ferguson and United’s players; a superstar whose dream in Madrid turned out to be less than fluffy clouds of eternal bliss, despite 151 goals in 150 appearances for Los Merengues. Ronaldo has found fortune in Madrid, but not the unsated adoration he apparently craves.
Yet, it takes not a cynic to dismiss any notion of Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford any time soon, even if the Portuguese forward’s unhappiness is not solely about leveraging his status as Madrid’s finest to secure a lucrative pay rise on a contract that runs to 2015.
Few, including leading Madrid-based sports daily Diario AS, believe the 27-year-old player is after anything but a new contract. But even in the highly unlikely event that all the stars aligned there is little possibility of United financing a deal for the world’s second best player. After all Ronaldo earns around €12 million per season before tax – up to €10.5 million net, according to some analysts, thanks to Spain’s formerly lax tax rules for super-rich imported footballers, which still apply to the player’s contract before renewal.
That prodigious salary works out at an income somewhere north of €200,000 per week – or an equivalent gross weekly salary in the UK far in excess of £250,000. Whatever the figure, it exceeds by some distance the new contract handed to Rooney in October 2010. All of that says nothing of Ronaldo’s €1 billion buy-out clause or, more realistically, of the €100 million fee Madrid will reportedly demand of any suitors.
In reality – as ever in football – it all comes down to money and ego. And here’s the rub, with Spain’s tax laws having changed any new contract signed by Ronaldo in Madrid will benefit not from the ‘Beckham Law,’ but a 52 per cent higher rate tax imposed by Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba’s Socialist Workers’ Party. Somebody will have to pay the difference, and Ronaldo doesn’t intend it to be him.
“He wants more money,” claimed Alfredo Relano, editor Madrid-based sports newspaper Diario AS, to underline the point.
“A while ago he was talking about a contract for life. But the price of a superstar has gone up after all the goals he has scored and after all Madrid have won.”
But there is no obvious remedy, if indeed it is a new contract Ronaldo is really seeking. After all, the new tax rate places Madrid under pressure to significantly raise the gross salary in any new deal. Moreover, should Madrid wish to bring Ronaldo’s salary in line with some of the best-paid players on the planet – Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, and Darío Conca for example – the gross sum will stretch even the Madrista’s deep pockets.
There seems little doubt Ronaldo’s ego demands not the money per se, but the status of being one of the world’s best paid players. How it must have hurt for his team-mates to campaign not for the Portuguese to be named European Footballer of the Year, but Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Yet, such is Ronaldo’s dive-esque need to create drama that the player may well yet find his va va voom in Madrid. He probably just needs Sir Alex’ arm around his broad shoulders, which some may say just goes to prove that the player should probably never have left Old Trafford no matter the ‘dream’.
What was that Sir Alex said about cows and fields? Ronaldo’s team-mate-cum-nemesis, Rooney, might have something to add to the debate.
Cristiano in Numbers
Ronaldo’s gross salary is €12,000,000 million per annum or €230,769 weekly, before bonuses and any commercial income. Under the Beckham Law and various tax avoidance schemes Ronaldo’s net salary is between €9,150,000 and €10,500,000 per annum, or €175,000 to €200,000 weekly. To put that in some kind of perspective, Ronaldo’s gross is £9,605,369 per annum, or just shy of £185,000 per week before bonuses.
Net of tax Ronaldo would earn an equivalent of £92,500 per week in England, but the Beckham Law ensures Ronaldo pays far less tax than a higher rate earner in the UK – an equivalent gross salary somewhere in excess of £250,000 per week.
Sporting CP: 2002/3 – 31 appearances, 5 goals
Manchester United: 2003–9 – 292 appearances, 118 goals
Real Madrid: 2009 – 149 appearances, 151 goals
Portugal: 2003 – 97 appearances, 37 goals