Ronaldo ends nine-year Madrid reign, joins Juventus


Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid on Tuesday announced the transfer of modern great Cristiano Ronaldo to Italian champions Juventus, with the Portuguese superstar saying the time had come “for a new stage” in his life.

Spanish media reports said the move could cost Juventus 105 million euros ($120 million), with Ronaldo signing a four-year contract worth 30 million euros per season.

The 33-year-old is expected to have a medical in Turin next week before being unveiled by his new side.

“Today Real Madrid want to give thanks to a player who has demonstrated he is the best in the world and who marked one of the most brilliant periods in the history of our club and world football,” Real Madrid said in a statement.

In a letter posted on the Real website, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said his time in the Spanish capital, during which he became their record goalscorer, had been one of the happiest in his life.

“I only have feelings of huge thanks for this club, for the fans and for this city,” he said.

“But I think the time has come to open a new stage in my life and that’s why I asked the club to accept to transfer me.

“I ask everyone, and especially our supporters, to please understand me.”

Juventus begin their pre-season schedule with a friendly against Bayern Munich on July 25 in Philadelphia, while Ronaldo could make his competitive debut for the club the following month, with Serie A to announce its fixtures for the upcoming season on July 20.

Ronaldo, whose World Cup campaign with Portugal was ended in the last 16 by Uruguay just under two weeks ago, hinted after May’s Champions League final victory over Liverpool that he was considering leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

“It was very nice to be in Madrid,” he said at the time, using the past tense. He later played down the comment, but doubts over his future at Madrid lingered, especially after he had also threatened to leave the previous year.

Despite failing to score in the 3-1 win in Kiev which sealed Real’s third successive European Cup, Ronaldo finished as the Champions League leading scorer for the sixth consecutive time with 15 goals.

– Juve focused on European glory –

Now Juventus will be hoping that he can maintain his ruthlessness in front of goal for a few more years and finally help them end an agonising wait to become European champions for the first time since 1996, despite a prolonged period of domestic success.

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