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Cristiano Ronaldo toasts new career with Juventus after 'nine wonderful years' with Real Madrid
THE first picture of Cristiano 'CR7' Ronaldo as Juventus' newest member has been published, and shows him with the Italian club chairman Andrea Agnelli raising a toast to his signing.
On holiday on Greece's Navarino coast with his fiancée, model Georgina Rodríguez and their baby daughter Alana Martina plus Ronaldo's other children, one-year-old twins Eva and Mateo and eight-year-old Cristiano Junior, the five-times Ballon d'Or winner is pictured with his agent, Jorge Mendes and his new boss on the cover of the Portuguese magazine Mais Futebol.
Once he starts officially with the team – based in Torino in Italy's far north-west – the Portuguese striker will be on a salary nearly four times as high as that of the country's former best-paid player, Argentina's Gonzalo Higuaín, or around €30 million after tax per year.
Higuaín, who earns a net €8m per year – until now the highest salary for an A-Series, or Italian premier division player, will be one of Ronaldo's team mates following his €112m transfer from Real Madrid.
Ronaldo had originally signed up with the Spanish premier league club until 2021 inclusive, by which time he would have been 36 years old, and made no secret of his desire at the time to sign up again after this, continuing to play for Real Madrid even past age 40 and until his retirement from the sport.
But his shock decision to leave the team after helping it win 16 trophies – including four Champions' League titles – may have been partly fuelled by his troubles with the Spanish tax office.
Following his accountants' advice, Ronaldo offset taxes payable on his his image rights – royalties for his face used in advertising – against a dormant company set up for the purpose of invoicing only.
This structure had been legal when he was playing for Manchester United and he continued to use it after his move to Madrid, leaving his financial affairs in the hands of the experts.
He is not the only celebrity to come undone in this respect – others have included singers Ana Torroja and Shakira and football stars Messi and Neymar – and due to artists' and sportspersons' high earnings, tax considered 'avoided' exceeds the civil-criminal threshold of €120,000 by default.
Although Ronaldo has agreed to a two-year suspended prison sentence and to pay a multi-million sum to the Spanish tax authorities – of which over 50% is in fines, interest and charges – the stigma and stress of it all has stayed with him.
He told a judge that 'everyone was talking of Cristiano as a though he was a criminal', to which she replied that 'even if his name was Antonio Pérez' – the Spanish equivalent of 'John Smith' – he would still be standing there in the dock.
Still, in an open letter to his fans and fellow players, Ronaldo says that his years with Real Madrid and living in the city of Madrid have 'possibly been the happiest of his life'.
He thanks them all for their support and affection, despite which he 'believes the moment has come' to 'embark on a new stage' in his life, for which he asks 'understanding'.
“These have been nine absolutely wonderful years, nine unique years, a very exciting time for me, full of consideration but also difficult because Real Madrid's expectations of you are extrremely high; but I know very well that I'll never, ever forget that I've enjoyed football here in a totally unique way,” the Portuguese national team captain writes.
“I've had some fabulous companions on the pitch and in the locker rooms, I've felt the warmth of an incredible fan base and, together, we've won three Champions' Leagues on the trot and four in five years.
“And together, on a personal level, I've had the satisfaction of winning four Ballons d'Or and three Golden Boots. All this during my stage with this one club has been immense and extraordinary.
“Real Madrid has conquered my heart and that of my family, and that's why, more than anything else, I want to say thanks: thank you to the club, to the chairman, to the directors, to my colleagues, to all the technicians, doctors, physiotherapists and other incredible workers who do all that they do so that everything works and who are ready and waiting, tirelessly, to help with every tiny detail.”
Speaking of 'reflecting a great deal' and that 'the time to begin a new cycle has come', and of his 'respect and admiration' for the 'truly great players' he was worked with and competed against, Ronaldo concludes that although he is leaving, he will 'continue to feel this shirt, this coat of arms and the Santiago Bernabéu stadium' as though it is 'part of him', no matter where he is in the world.
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