Cristiano Ronaldo: Decision to leave Real Madrid for Juventus ‘not been difficult’
Cristiano Ronaldo said it was not a difficult decision to leave Real Madrid to join Juventus during his official presentation in Turin on Monday, saying “grazie mille” to the Italian club at the end of an eventful day.
After landing in the Piedmont capital on Sunday evening, the 33-year-old Portuguese forward arrived at the Allianz Stadium on Monday morning for an obligatory medical, after which he met some of his new teammates at Juve’s nearby Continassa training centre.
Large groups of fans spent hours around the stadium and J Medical clinic, keen to catch a glimpse of their club’s record signing — and their new idol.
After saluting them on his way in and out of the medical clinic, Ronaldo was then introduced to over 200 journalists and 30 television channels inside the Allianz Stadium, where he said it “had not been difficult” to agree to join Juve, who he says “are one of the best clubs in the world.”
“It was a well-pondered decision,” he said. “So it was easy to decide due to the strength of the club, they are the best club in Italy with an outstanding coach.
“I’m enjoying my football, I’m still very young and I’ve always liked challenges. At Sporting [Lisbon], Manchester [United] and Real Madrid — I’ve had a dream career and I would never have been able to imagine it going any better. I’ve won so many things individually and for my teams.
“Challenges are part of my life. I came here because this is a huge challenge for my career — players of my age generally go to other countries, with all respect for Qatar and China, so to join a club like this makes me happy, so I’d like to thank Juventus for the opportunity they’ve given to me.”
The reigning Ballon d’Or winner last week ended his nine-year spell at Real Madrid following a reported rift with Madrid president Florentino Perez over a new contract, with the two clubs confirming they’d agreed on a transfer fee of €100 million (approximately $117 million) — a Serie A record — with Juventus also paying €12 million in ancillary fees to land Ronaldo, who signed a four-year contract.
Sources confirmed to ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti that Real Madrid were willing to match Juventus’ gross salary offer of around €55 million annually (approximately $64.5 million), but Ronaldo, who has led Madrid to four of the past five Champions League titles, still opted to leave.
Juve are bidding to win their first Champions League since 1996 and that is one of the main reasons why they have signed a player who has won Europe’s biggest club competition five times — and is keen on a sixth.
“I know all clubs want to win the Champions League, and we can win it,” Ronaldo said. “We’ll fight for all trophies — Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League. We’ve got to remain calm, but the Champions League is very difficult to win, but obviously I hope to help.
“Juve have gone very, very close in recent years. They never won because finals can go either way, but I hope to help. Juventus have given be an excellent opportunity and I’m really grateful for this.”
It is an opportunity Ronaldo is relishing.
“I’d never say it’s a step back — it’s always a step forward because I see this team are ready to win things,” he said. “It’s no coincidence they’ve won seven league titles in a row. It’s a big step forwards for me and I want to prove myself on the field, win major trophies and take Juventus even higher.
“It was a brilliant story with Real Madrid, who helped me win many things. That was a stage of my career and I thank the fans, but this is a new stage now and I can’t wait to play. I’ll be looking to show Italian football fans that I am still at the top.
“I’ll work and train hard, but I don’t have anything to prove — my statistics say everything. I’m ambitious and like challenges, and I don’t like to be in my comfort zone — I hope to go down in history for Juventus as I did for Manchester and Real.
“I like challenges a lot. It’s a very difficult, tactical league. I know it’s going to be hard, but I’ve never had anything easy in my career — otherwise I could just sit in my armchair at home. I’m confident about my football and my teammates and I’m sure everything will go well.”
Ronaldo will take a short break before linking up to train with his new teammates during their tour of the United States on July 30, though he did not confirm whether he will play in the MLS All-Star Game two days later, or face his former club in a friendly on Aug. 4, saying only he will “be ready for the first game of the season.”