Football

Riled-up Ronaldo seeking Real exit

Los Blancos superstar reportedly wants to leave Spain after being accused of tax fraud

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave the club and Spain after being accused of committing tax fraud in the country, a report in Portuguese sports daily A Bola said yesterday.

The newspaper said its story was based on a reliable source and that the 32-year-old four-time World Player of the Year had already made up his mind to ask the club for a transfer.

It said that Ronaldo was "deeply disenchanted" with the allegations against him, especially since he had voluntarily tried to solve possible errors with his taxes.

Spanish prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against the player accusing him of defrauding tax authorities of 14.7 million euros (S$22.7 million) by hiding his image rights income between 2011 and 2014.

Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.

Real Madrid said on Thursday that they were confident the Portuguese forward had acted legally.

They could not immediately be reached yesterday to comment on the report.

Spanish newspaper Marca reported last night that the club are trying to calm Ronaldo down and get him to reconsider his position.

Ronaldo is currently with Portugal national team in Russia for the Confederations Cup, which kicks off tonight.

DECISION

If he decides to fight the case should it go to court, he will have to take the stand like his arch-rival Lionel Messi did.

If found guilty, he could be handed a suspended sentence which he will not have to serve as it would be his first offence.

So, where could he go if he decides to leave Spain?

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United would be able to afford his transfer fee, said to be about 180m euros, and match his salary.

However, the ultra-competitive athlete might find himself playing in fewer finals.

Outside Europe, the only plausible options are Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Chinese Super League, although both seem unlikely.

The MLS is largely seen as a retirement home, while China has become a less likely destination because a transfer-fee cap has been imposed on all clubs who have recorded losses.

It remains to be seen how many Chinese clubs will be able to afford his transfer fee now.

Ronaldo led Real Madrid to their 12th European Cup earlier this month after scoring two goals in a 4-1 victory over Juventus in the Champions League final, becoming the tournament's top scorer.

He has completed eight seasons at Real Madrid since joining them from Man United in 2009 for a then-world record fee of 96 million euros.

During that time, they have won the Champions League three times and La Liga twice. Last November, he agreed to extend his contract until 2021. - WIRE SERVICES