Juventus close to Cristiano Ronaldo transfer - a previously unthinkable coup for a club hellbent on Champions League glory

Ed Malyon
The Independent

Cristiano Ronaldo’s entourage has met with Juventus as the Italian giants look to pull off a previously unthinkable coup and sign the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

The Portuguese forward’s up-and-down relationship with the Bernabéu club over the past few seasons hit a new low in the immediate aftermath of winning the Champions League in Kiev, where he reopened the subject of his future in interviews on the field before a single celebratory firework had even been lit.

It was the latest in a series of unsubtle efforts from Ronaldo at getting an improved contract, with the Real Madrid man’s entourage believing he was due a significant salary increase in the wake of Lionel Messi and Neymar being handed bigger deals.

And while he tried to walk back his comments the following day, this time Real Madrid haven’t been willing to play ball and intermediaries let it be known to a gaggle of top European clubs in late June that the 33-year-old forward could be available for as little as €100m (£88m).

In the end, Juventus - serial losing finalists in the Champions League who are desperate to get over the hump and return to the peak of European football - were the only team to show serious interest and after weighing up the significant financial outlay, the Serie A giants are keen to press ahead with a deal.

They spent nearly £90m to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli in 2016, when he was seen as the final piece needed to win their first European Cup since the mid-1990s, but the reality has been more difficult.

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It will require some financial manoeuvring on the part of the Italians and Higuain himself could become a casualty with Chelsea linked to the Argentina forward. But in black and white terms, Ronaldo’s expected gross remuneration of around €60m (£53m) remains around 40% of Juve's current wage bill and though this has not put off the Agnelli family, who own a controlling stake in the club, it will almost certainly push the club into selling players.

Madrid want to stage manage any departure and give Ronaldo the farewell his goal-laden time in the Spanish capital deserves.

Their next focus is on signing Neymar or Kylian Mbappe this summer as part of their desire to make the squad younger, but Eden Hazard has emerged as an alternative should Paris Saint-Germain stonewall advances over their superstar attacking duo.

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