MADRID (CNN) – After nine years, 16 trophies and 451 goals, Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Real Madrid. The 33-year-old Portugal star is joining reigning Serie A champion Juventus from the Champions League holder for a reported $117 million transfer fee.
“He’s called Cristiano Ronaldo and he’s now officially a Bianconero,” read an announcement on the Juventus website. The club also confirmed that Ronaldo would sign a four-year contract, tying him to Juve until 2022.
Real Madrid had released its own prior statement “expressing its gratitude to a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football.”
In an open letter to fans, Ronaldo said that he had “reflected a lot” and knew that “the time has come for a new cycle.”
Last season, the Portuguese star scored a stunning bicycle kick against Juventus in Turin, which was widely viewed as one of world’s greatest ever Champions League goals.
Ronaldo had a barnstorming start to this year’s World Cup, scoring a hat-trick against Spain in a 3-3 draw before Portugal was knocked out by Uruguay in the last 16 stage.
Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009 for a then-record fee of $106 million. He went on to become Real’s all-time leading goalscorer, winning four Champions League titles, including a historic three consecutive crowns, two La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey trophies.
“For Real Madrid, Ronaldo will always be one of his great symbols and a unique reference for the next generations,” added the Real statement. “Real Madrid will always be your home.”
Sergio Ramos, captain of the Spanish club, saluted Ronaldo’s achievements and wished his former teammate luck going forward. “Cristiano, your goals, your numbers and everything we’ve won together speak for themselves,” tweeted Ramos. “You’ve earned yourself a prominent place in the history of Real Madrid. The Madristas will always remember you. It’s been a pleasure playing by your side. Big hug and good luck!”
Reports of Ronaldo’s displeasure in the Spanish capital have become an almost annual occurrence in recent years, though each episode had always ended with a new contract. But the five-time Ballon d’Or winner sparked more rumors when asked about his future in the immediate aftermath of Real Madrid Champions League win over Liverpool.
“I’ll speak in the next few days,” he said on May 26. “Now it’s time to enjoy the moment.”
Ronaldo has been the scourge of Juventus in recent years, scoring two goals in a man-of-the-match performance in the 2017 Champions League final and knocking the Turin club out of last year’s competition.
“These years in Real Madrid, and in this city of Madrid, have been possibly the happiest of my life,” stated Ronaldo in his letter to the club’s fans. “I only have feelings of enormous gratitude for this club, for this fanbase and for this city. I can only thank all of them for the love and affection I have received.”
“However, I believe that the time has come to open a new stage in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept transferring me,” Ronaldo continued. “I feel that way and I ask everyone, and especially our followers, to please understand me.”
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