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The timeline behind Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to leave Real Madrid

Spanish daily El Mundo reports that ongoing issues with the Spanish Tax Authorities coupled with contractual disputes with the club were key factors in his departure.

The timeline behind Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to leave Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid this summer but the idea to abandon the Bernabéu outfit was a premeditated one with Spanish daily El Mundo claiming that a meeting with agent Jorge Mendes on May 11th (2017) was the beginning of the end to his time at the Bernabéu

Lawyer Dr Carlos Osorio, responsible for designing tax and legal structures for Mendes' footballers, was also present at the May meeting to discuss the star player's tax problems, with the Spanish tax authorities accusing him of defrauding 14.8 million euros in image rights income. Facing the possibility of a potential jail sentence the Portuguese striker exploded: "Who's responsible for handling this? I said I didn't want any risks!"

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 match between Al Jazira and Real Madrid CF on December 13, 2017
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Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 match between Al Jazira and Real Madrid CF on December 13, 2017Francois NelGetty Images

"Cris, I'm responsible", replied Dr Osorio. "Relax, it's all ok and we're going to fight to the death right to the end" he continued, to pacify the Portuguese player. However Cristiano was still upset: "I've never studied. The only thing I've done in my life is play football but I'm not stupid and I don't trust anyone. That's why when I hire an advisor,  I always pay them 30% more than they ask for, because I don't want any problems".

The article in El Mundo states that Cristiano Ronaldo was by now unhappy in Madrid. He felt alone and was spending much of his spare time on his own at his luxury property in La Finca, a secluded gated residential area outside Madrid, where he devoted himself to training, to the point where the club's medical services were becoming concerned at the fact he might be overtraining.

Meanwhile Real Madrid coach Zidane was becoming worried about Ronalado's obession with his tax problems: "Fix this issue of Cristiano's however you can, because he doesn't talk about anything else in the dressing room, it's unbearable" he said to Real Madrid's executives.

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Barcelona's treatment of Messi

Cristiano was anticipating that the club would help him in the same way as Barcelona had done with their star player compensating Lionel Messi's tax penalty payments. However club directors at the Bernabeu were anxious to avoid becoming embroiled in the Madeira born player's tax issues and in September of 2017 when the club informed the player of their position, the decision was poorly received by Ronaldo and was pivotal in his desire for a move away from the Spanish capital.

Messi and Neymar's salaries

As the issues the Portuguese striker faced with the Spanish tax authorities showed no signs of being rectified, news broke that Lionel Messi had signed a lucrative multi million euro deal with FC Barcelona as Neymar moved to Paris Saint-Germain with both South American strikers becoming the highest paid players in the game.

"It's a lack of respect that I, the Ballon d'Or holder, earns less than Messi and Neymar. It's not [about] the money, it's status, respect", said Cristiano about the situation.

Real Madrid finally agreed to improve Cristiano's deal after the 2017 Champions league final but only offered him an increase from 21 million euro per season net to 25, short of the 30 million the player was hoping for, which he could only meet if a series of objectives were met. For Cristiano Ronaldo that was the final straw - he took the decision that the 2017/18 season would be his last at the Bernabéu.

Offers for Cristiano Ronaldo

"I didn't leave and I regret it" said Cristiano to his agent, Mendes, once the season had started. Mendes for his part attempted to convince the player that the best thing for him would be to stay at Real Madrid and finish his career in Spain. At the club thouhg, the belief was that the agent was attempting to push the player away from Madrid, in the hope of landing a succulent commission.

Real Madrid had only spoken to one team, Manchester United, about a possible move for Cristiano, but the English club weren't willing to pay much for the forward. Mendes, at the behest of his client, continued to press the club to do something, and eventually Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, who never believed Cristiano would leave, told Mendes: “If you secure a buyer prepared to pay 100 million euro, he's free to leave”.

AC Milan were the first club to respond, with the "Rossoneri" offering 150 million euro (net) over a five year period. This bid failed to persuade the striker who however was still convinced that the 2017/18 season would be his last in the white shirt of Real Madrid.

Cristiano was also perplexed that the club always deemed him as second to the iconic Alfredo Di Stéfano. "I'm constantly being placed by the club behind Di Stéfano. I don't know what else I can do", affirmed the striker.

Following their 17/18 Champions League quarter-final elimination at the Bernabéu, Mendes opened negotiations with Juventus. "Juve have reached two finals, with me they can win the Champions League", Cristiano said to Mendes. And when the Juventus fans applauded Cristiano Ronaldo's overhead kick against them, it was an emotional turning point for the striker, who now felt a bond between himself and the tifosi.

PSG also expressed their interest in Cristiano's services but they wanted to do the deal on the last day of the transfer window, to avoid Real Madrid coming in for Neymar or Mbappé after losing the Portuguese star.  Cristiano Ronaldo meanwhile had been seduced by Juventus, the idea of living in Italy, the respect he felft the club was showing to him, and the deal on offer. His next destination would be Turin.

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