For several months there has been talk of a possible parting of ways between Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo, as talks of his contract extension lingered. On Sunday, Ronaldo officially extended his contract by three years, until 2018, upgrading his pay. If the Portuguese star keeps playing in his white uniform through to the end of the contract, he will probably retire as a Real Madrid player.
"White for life," the Spanish soccer website Marca wrote.
Ronaldo penned his name to paper after the transfer window had closed, killing the rumors tying Ronaldo to Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain. Gareth Bale arrived for a record fee –- breaking the record set by Ronaldo's move from Manchester United -– and a new coach took over. It seemed that the time was right for both sides.
As far as Florentino Perez was concerned, things were very straightforward: The club president could not afford to lose Ronaldo, after failing to land Brazilian star Neymar. With all due respect to Bale, Iker Casillas or the recently signed Isco, Real could not afford to lose Ronaldo, the only mega-star of the Blancos.
"This is a great day in the club's history,” Perez said. “The dream of every Madridista came true: Ronaldo will stay with us for the next five years." The club president who paid 100 million euro for Bale was not to be put off by the significant pay increase promised in the new contract: 17 million euro per season, 1 million more than Lionel Messi. But then again, Ronaldo brings in an incredibly handsome revenue from merchandise.
Ronaldo was sure he deserved a pay raise, and also demanded a higher percentage from sales using his image. Ronaldo's share of the merchandise profits have now risen from 60 percent to a yet undisclosed sum, a change that is even more significant than the salary hike.
Ronaldo and Perez's relationship had its ups and downs last season, but a meeting in Los Angeles during the summer seemed to have signaled a new beginning.
"I appreciate the fans like me a lot and I want to give my best on the pitch. Everyone knows I was in Manchester for six years, but now my club is Real Madrid,” Ronaldo said. “This is my home, my family is here and I’m really happy here."
"I respect all the clubs who ask about me,” he said. “But they always know that my decision, that my only goal, is to be here and to play at this club until, maybe, the end of my career."
Ronaldo now should feel perfectly at home. The president supports him; he has the full backing of the club, including new coach Carlo Ancelotti; and after fan favorite Iker Casillas lost his place in the starting 11, Ronaldo is officially the darling of Madrid. And with 203 goals in 203 games, he fully deserves his new status.