The crooked relationship between Ronaldo and Florentino Pérez has come to light. CR7’s exit from the Santiago Bernabeu still leaves a dark cloud over the club.
It all began in the summer of 2009. The young Portuguese forward had already attracted global attention. Almost every fan on the face of the globe had his name on their lips. Soon after Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils succumbed to a ruthless Barcelona in the Champions League final in Wembley, the speculation of Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford was heightened.
The pursuit of Ronaldo’s signature was a hot one. If any club was in mad need of the most valuable sporting commodity at the time, it was Los Blancos overseen by business tycoon and club president, Florentino Pérez Rodriguez. A tough-talking civil engineer who splits his time as the board chairman of ACS Grupo, a civil engineering firm in Madrid.
A mouth-watering £80 million offer was hard to turn down by Manchester United. A bid that would be the world record transfer fee.
According to Goal, the 71-year-old boss almost halted the transfer but was convinced to continue with the move thanks to the former general manager of Real Madrid, Jorge Valdano.
After six golden years at Old Trafford, the Portuguese who was 24 at the time was due to fly to Madrid to continue his career as the newest member of Real Madrid. Wearing the number 9 shirt, the ex-Manchester United forward scored 26 goals in 28 La Liga games despite going trophyless in his debut season.
Friends became strangers at the Bernabeu
The relationship between Ronaldo and Florentino could be summarized in two words: very rocky. The weighty admiration for the Portuguese star turned lighter by the day and eventually became non-existent. As an entrepreneur, one would presume that Florentino would place maximum priority on keeping Ronaldo, his biggest asset, by giving him a max deal.
According to reports, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner had bad blood with the top hierarchy because his demands were not met. He wanted better a salary. The rapid rise of Brazilian forward, Neymar Jr, tickled and attracted interest from Florentino.
In an interview with Tuttomercato, Real Madrid’s ex-club president, Ramon Calderon, shifted blame at Florentino for the failure to keep the superstar. He revealed:
“He [Ronaldo] was upset when the reports said Real were prepared to pay double his salary to Neymar.”
Ronaldo, having led Los Blancos to win four Champions League titles, would soon realize that he was undervalued by Florentino.
Speaking to France Football for the magazine’s late October issue, Ronaldo confessed:
“I felt it inside the club, especially from the president, that they no longer considered me the same way that they did in the start.
“In the first four or five years there, I had the feeling of being ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. Less afterwards. The president looked at me through eyes that didn’t want to say the same thing, as if I was no longer indispensable to them, if you know what I mean.”
More pointedly, it meant that Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer had to wave goodbye to the dismay of Los Blancos fans.
This marked the beginning of what can be called, the beginning of the end of the Ronaldo era at Real Madrid. Ticket sales would drop and the entire spirit at Santiago Bernabeu would go dim all for one reason – Cristiano Ronaldo’s shock exit. This was the phenomenon many followers of the game would term as the Ronaldo Effect!
New love found in Turin
During last season’s festy UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash in Turin, Ronaldo scored an epic goal against Juventus. An overhead kick that made headlines. The fever that came along with it was contagious. There and then, he discovered the love of the Juventus fans in the stands who couldn’t hold back their admiration.
Midway through last season, the 33-year-old was speculated to have considered doing a one-eighty turn to Manchester United. PSG and Chelsea were also on the list of possible destinations. Ronaldo, now a father of four beautiful children, took a well-thought-out decision to force a €100 million move away to Juventus who seemed to want him more.
The Juventus forward reiterated his reason for choosing to be a Bianconeri.
“I did not come to Juve for the money. I earned the same in Madrid, if not more. The difference is that, at Juve, they really wanted me. They told me that and made it clear. They showed me that,” he told France Football.
For a player his age with the superstar caliber, it makes sense to be in Turin where the love is deeper. All Ronaldo needed at the Bernabeu was appreciation. There was no recognized farewell speech. To bestow honor upon Ronaldo, his revered number 7 shirt could have been retired. Instead, Mariano Díaz Mejía, who hasn’t glittered yet, inherited the jersey.
This is bad for the image of Florentino’s Real Madrid who have benefited from Ronaldo’s relentless attitude and commitment for nine years.