Earlier this week, Real Madrid megastar Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to shrug off the accusations made by a Spanish prosecutor that he used a shell company to hide $16.5 million in unpaid taxes from 2011 to 2014.
“My conscience is quite clear, brother. Always, man,” Ronaldo said Wednesday before he traveled to Russia with the Portuguese national team for the Confederations Cup.
But now it appears that Ronaldo is, in fact, not at all happy. Three European publications — two in Portugal, one in Spain — along with the BBC are reporting that he’s so fed up with the Spanish tax authorities that he wants out of Real Madrid, for which he’s played since 2009 and helped lead to three Champions League titles, two Spanish league championships and the Copa del Rey in 2014.
“He feels he’s honest, has good character and did everything OK, so he doesn’t understand,” a source close to Ronaldo told the BBC’s Dan Roan. “He’s very sad and really upset.”
Here’s the A Bola front page from Portugal. Roughly translated, the headlines state: “RONALDO WANTS TO LEAVE SPAIN. The decision is irreversible and he’s already told Real Madrid’s president. The world’s best is fed up with the Spanish tax process.”
— Tom Kundert (@PortuGoal1) June 16, 2017
According to Marca, a Spanish sports daily, Ronaldo feels as if he’s been “used as an example in an unfair and disproportionate way” by Spanish tax authorities, even after he tried to work with them to fix his tax issues.
There aren’t that many teams that could afford the four-time FIFA world player of the year, however, as Marca puts his transfer fee and salary at 400 million euros, or nearly $450 million. England’s Manchester United, for whom the 32-year-old Ronaldo played from 2003 to 2009, and France’s Paris Saint-Germain are among the teams that could foot the bill, Marca says, along with Chinese pro teams looking to make a splash. According to the Independent, Paris Saint-Germain has long coveted the world’s highest-paid athlete and “held a number of secret meetings with him” about a transfer during the 2015-16 season.
Real Madrid stood by its star on Wednesday, saying in a statement that Ronaldo “will demonstrate his complete innocence.” In private, the team is hoping his mood will change with the passage of time, Marca reports.
As for Ronaldo himself, he’s not saying much at the moment.