MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo signalled his intention to keep playing for 10 more years after rounding off a “dream year” by signing a bumper new five-year contract with Real Madrid on Monday.
The deal, expected to protect Ronaldo’s status as the world’s highest paid footballer, will keep the Portuguese tied to the European champions until he is 36.
“What I most want is to continue enjoying the years I have left to play. I still have 10 years (ahead),” Ronaldo said after signing what he insisted will be his penultimate contract.
According to American magazine Forbes, Ronaldo topped Barcelona rival Lionel Messi as the world’s best paid sportsman in 2016 with an income of $88m (80 million euros, £71 million).
The three-time World Player of the Year has enjoyed his most successful year at a collective level, scoring the winning penalty as Madrid won the Champions League for an 11th time in May before captaining Portugal to their first major tournament win at Euro 2016.
“After the season I’ve had, to win the Champions League, the Euros and then renew my contract with Real Madrid it is something I never imagined. It is a dream year.”
Ronaldo becomes just the latest Madrid star to extend his contract in recent weeks.
Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos also agreed lucrative renewals as the club prepares to serve a one-year transfer ban imposed by FIFA.
According to UK media reports Bale’s new six-year deal will earn the Welshman as much as £600,000 a week before tax.
Ronaldo has plundered 371 goals in 360 games in his eight seasons since swapping Manchester United for Madrid for a then world record fee in 2009 making him the club’s all-time top goalscorer.
As well as picking up two of his three Ballon d’Or titles for the world’s best as a Madrid player, Ronaldo has also won two Champions Leagues, one La Liga title and two Spanish Cups.
“There will be a before and after Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Madrid president Florentino Perez.
“Your trajectory is marking an era. You are the great icon of the club, a symbol of the best club in the world.”
However, Ronaldo avoided guaranteeing he will retire as a Madrid player.
“I am very happy to finalise this dream of extending my contract. I want to continue making history for the best club in the world,” added Ronaldo.
“We will see. What the future brings you never know. It is clear I want to finish here, but this is my penultimate contract.”
Yet, despite his incredible achievements in a Madrid shirt, the length of the contract has been questioned with Ronaldo struggling to match his form of old so far this season.
Having failed to even register a shot on target in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Leganes, Ronaldo has now gone five games without a goal at the Bernabeu for the first time in his career.
Indeed Ronaldo even thanked Perez and the club for “having a memory” in a sport that rarely does.
“To score or not score is not so important as you think,” continued Ronaldo.
“It is a little bit of a blip, but that is part of life.
“I know that in two, three weeks or a month Cristiano will be there as always.”