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Cristiano Ronaldo takes a wage cut and leaves Real Madrid for Juventus

  • Published at 11:54 pm July 12th, 2018
In terms of endorsements, no other football player comes closeREUTERS
In terms of endorsements, no other football player comes close Reuters

The move marks the end of a remarkable tenure for the 33-year-old

After nine years at Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving the global football giant for the Italian Serie A club Juventus. The deal is worth at least $340 million over four years, according to Forbes sources.

The tally includes a $140 million transfer fee owed to Real and a net annual salary for Ronaldo of roughly $35m. The latter does not include any known bonus or incentive, per sources.

Based on Italy’s top tax rate, Ronaldo’s new gross salary equates to $64 million, a pay cut from the estimated minimum $66 million he would have made this upcoming season in salary and bonus if he stayed at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. 

This lags behind the gross pay of Lionel Messi ($84 million) and Neymar ($73 million), both of whom received new deals last year from their respective clubs, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

No football player is close to Ronaldo in terms of endorsement earnings, though. With the $47m he earns off the pitch from endorsements, appearances, and licensing, he is still on track to bank at least $97.5m through the upcoming season, enough to keep him the second-highest-paid football player in the world.

The move marks the end of a remarkable tenure for Ronaldo at the Bernabéu, where the 33-year old Portuguese forward became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer, won four of his five Ballon d’Or awards and led Real Madrid to four Champions League titles.

Perhaps that is why his transfer fee held up. Nine years ago, Real Madrid paid Manchester United the equivalent of $133m in today’s dollars for Ronaldo. Today, the team recouped that plus $7m from Juve.

Juventus is Italy’s most storied football club, but it can’t approach the scope and platform of Real Madrid. Forbes’s latest ranking of the world’s most valuable football teams ranked Real second at $4.088bn, a shade behind Manchester United, while Juventus ranked ninth at $1.472bn. Real’s revenues were $735m, compared with $442m for Juventus.

The move was reportedly caused by a dispute with Madrid president Florentino Perez over a new contract, with Ronaldo having fallen behind rivals Lionel Messi and Neymar in terms of playing salary. Forbes’s look last month at the world’s highest-paid athletes had Ronaldo third overall, behind Floyd Mayweather and Messi.

In a statement on the move, Real Madrid said: “Real Madrid would like to communicate that we have listened to the wish and request expressed by player Cristiano Ronaldo and have agreed to his transfer to Juventus FC.”

Ronaldo is a one-man economy, thanks to his role as the dominant personality in the world’s biggest sport. He has more than 300 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and his personal Facebook page alone has 122 million fans, 20 million more than any other person on the planet. 

He generated $474m in value for his sponsors over the last 12 months on his social media accounts, according to data from research firm Hookit. The Nike lifer even generated $216 million in value for Adidas on social media, thanks to posts in which Ronaldo was wearing his Real Madrid uniform, which includes Adidas’s Three Stripes logo.

Facebook is in talks with Ronaldo for an original series on its Facebook Watch platform, according to Variety. The deal could be worth as much as $10m for a 13-episode docu-series.

Ahead of this transfer, Ronaldo inked a deal with the Associazione Volontari Italiani Sangue, the Italian Blood Volunteering Association. The agreement with US laboratory Abbott, which has the rights to a worldwide campaign, will see that his image is used to promote blood donation throughout the country. 


Christina Settimi writes on the business of sports. This article first appeared on Forbes magazine.