Yet while he is said to be peeved that his name is not greeted with thunderous acclaim pre-game at the Bernabeu — and has even been jeered by a voluble minority — it does not square with claims that his unrest is because he has no social life as he cannot get respite from adoring fans.
Ronaldo had been portrayed as a lonely figure whose daily routine of driving across Madrid, from his home at the exclusive La Finca in Pozuelo de Alarcón to the club’s Valdebebas training complex, was only occasionally broken by an ill-fated attempt at enjoying life in the city.
Insiders told newspaper El Mundo that Ronaldo had taken Russian girlfriend Irina Shayk to the theatre to see The Lion King, entering wearing sunglasses when the lights had been dimmed, only to leave before the interval because he had been swamped by fans demanding photos and autographs despite his requests to be left in peace.
Real Madrid are preparing a joint statement with Cristiano Ronaldo that should put an end, at least temporarily, to the uncertainty over his future.
The declaration being compiled by the club, but expected to be signed by the player as well, will affirm Real’s commitment to eventually extending Ronaldo’s contract beyond 2015 and will also give the club’s full support to his candidacy for the Balon D’Or prize awarded at the end of the year.
The reaction addresses the two main reasons behind Ronaldo’s current unhappiness — the failure of the club to extend his current deal and a perceived lack of institutional support towards him in his battle to beat the likes of Leo Messi and Andres Iniesta to football’s top individual prizes.
His unhappiness was also said to extend to the Real dressing room, where he was once part of a band of Portuguese-speaking players. He has fallen out with Brazil full-back Marcelo who, allegedly, said Iker Casillas would be a worthy Balon D’Or winner. And while Ronaldo’s Portugal team-mate, Pepe, made a point of congratulating his Madrid clubmates in the Spain team after their European Championship semi-final win, the former Manchester United hero did not.
Ronaldo feels his relationship with many of the Madrid fans is not what it should be. After scoring 150 goals in his first 150 games for the club (151, according to Ronaldo, after a referee awarded a deflected effort to Pepe) one might expect unwavering adulation. But while the £80m attacker’s name is still sung by his former United supporters at Old Trafford, at the Bernabeu there is no special treatment.
Not just that, in Madrid he is constantly reminded that he earns around £21,800 a day — 1.5 times what the average Spaniard (if he is not one of the five million unemployed) gets in a year.
‘If he wants a pay rise he should at least ask less publicly,’ has been the common sentiment.
A major problem for Real is the abolition of the so-called ‘Beckham Law’, under which they agreed to pay Ronaldo £8m a year net, with the club meeting his 24 per cent tax obligation. Ronaldo’s current contract still benefits from the ‘Beckham Law’. But any new contract would, from 2015, be subject to a 52 per cent tax.
Paying Ronaldo his £8m a year has been costing the club just under £10m a season. Now, by giving in to his 30 per cent pay increase demands, his new £10.35m take home pay would see them shelling out more than £20m a season.