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Cristiano Ronaldo on Real Madrid exit: I was not under the same consideration as when I started

Cristiano Ronaldo blamed club president Florentino Perez as the main reason behind his decision to leave Real Madrid this summer and sign with Italian giants Juventus.

The Portugal captain ended his nine-year spell at Real Madrid with a move to Turin for a €55 million annual salary, following a reported rift with Real Madrid president Perez over a new contract.

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Ronaldo told France Football in an excerpt from an interview released on Monday: “I felt that inside the club, especially on the part of the president, I was not under the same consideration as I was when I started with the club. The first four or five years there, I had the feeling of being Cristiano Ronaldo. Then, I felt it less. The look in the president’s eyes told me that he no longer felt the same, that I was no longer indispensable.”

Over the summer, the clubs agreed on a transfer fee of €100m — a Serie A record — with the Italian club also paying €12m in ancillary fees to land the 33-year-old, who signed a four-year contract.

Reports from inside club were that Ronaldo was waiting for an offer from Real Madrid to improve upon his existing contract, which had three years left to run at an estimated €38.5m gross annually, making it worth significantly less than those of his fellow superstars — Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (€73.6m) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar (€66m) — despite the Portugal captain helping Madrid extend their record haul of European Cup trophies to 13.

Ronaldo, who won 16 trophies and scored 450 goals in nine seasons at Madrid, told France Football that Perez’s shift in attitude caused him to “reflect upon his exit” from Madrid and let him to eventually request to be transferred to Juve.

“Sometimes I watched the news where they said I had asked to leave. There was a little bit of that, but the truth is that I got the impression the president wouldn’t stand in my way. So I decided to continue my life elsewhere, to listen to offers from other clubs. Little by little, the idea took shape,” Ronaldo said in the advance of the interview, which is expected to run in its entirety in the French weekly magazine on Tuesday.

Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s all-time top goal scorer, left after leading the club to four Champions League titles — including three in as many years — and he claimed a host of personal accolades and records from his time in Spain, including four of his five Ballon d’Or awards.

Since Ronaldo’s departure, Real Madrid have been winless in six La Liga starts, including a 5-1 loss in Sunday’s Clasico against Barcelona.

Ronaldo also insisted his “decision to leave wasn’t taken as a result” of the coaching departure of Zinedine Zidane.

“You know I like Zidane a lot, both the man and the coach. But my decision was not taken in relation to his departure. That said, it’s one of the small details that confirmed what I thought of the situation at the club. It did not push me to leave, but it didn’t make me stay,” he said.

“I can’t deny that it has been a bit difficult, but sometimes change is necessary. As you know, I’m someone who likes challenges. I don’t like to be in a comfort zone. I prefer to set myself new challenges, call myself into question to go and find that adrenaline that brings excitement.

“At the club, at the end, the president only looked at me as in a business relationship. I know that. I can kind of understand it if you’re sincere with me and if you explain things, that that’s how you understand football to be.”

Following Zidane’s departure, Real Madrid hired Spain national team coach Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked after just 14 matches following a board of directors’ meeting on Monday.

On Sunday, Lopetegui’s father, Jose Antonio told El Mundo that the club had “stolen 50 goals from my son” after failing to find a quality replacement for Ronaldo.

“Cristiano Ronaldo was good,” Jose Antonio said after Sunday’s Clasico. “Was he cocky? We all have defects. But it turns out he [Ronaldo] scored 50 goals [a season]. He is missing. You are missing a prominent goalscorer. They haven’t brought one, not a single one.

“There was talk of Neymar and others but no one came. They have stolen 50 goals from my son.”

Ronaldo also told France Football that the move to Serie A had nothing to do with the amount of money he was offered but rather was due to the feeling he got that the Italians “really wanted him.”

“If I had made my transfer about money, I would have gone to China where I would have earned five times more than here or at Real. I didn’t come to Juve for the money,” he said. “I made that same amount of money at Real Madrid, if not more. The difference was that at Juve, they really wanted me there. They told me and they showed me.”

Ronaldo said that he feels he is deserving of the Ballon d’Or and said he would like to “win it for a sixth time and beat Lionel Messi’s record.”

He also said he thinks he could play on for four to six more years.

“Age is in the head. It’s that which allows me still to be at the top, to have the same enjoyment in what I do on the pitch, to be happy, quite simply,” Ronaldo said. “I know it’ll finish one day. In four, five, six years, who knows…it’s the attitude that will make the difference. Now, I’m motivated and I’m living in the present.

Ronaldo also credited his time at Manchester United under the direction of Sir Alex Ferguson with turning him into a goalscorer.

“I learned, quite simply, through contact with the master who is called Sir Alex Ferguson and teammates who were also great players,” he said when asked how he went from the player who scored four goals in his first Premier League season with United to the player he is today.

“In one respect, it was easy, but I also made things easy for myself by working enormously. The change and the improvement was slow and gradual. I learned the most important thing wasn’t to score, but to help the team win.”

Finally, Ronaldo said the rape allegation against him is affecting his personal life.

“Of course this story is interfering in my life. I have a partner, four children, an aging mother, sisters, a brother, a family I’m very close to,” he said.

Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit last month in Nevada claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police also reopened an investigation at her request.

Ronaldo has scored four goals in four Italian league matches since being accused of rape last month.

He again defended himself in the latest interview, saying “I know who I am and what I’ve done. The truth will come out in the light of day.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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