Cristiano Ronaldo's nine-year run with Real Madrid is over. The 33-year-old superstar is on his way to Italy, where he'll join Juventus. The Turin-based club is paying a $117 million transfer fee for the rights to one of the two most famous soccer players in the world.
Once he's in Italy, Ronaldo will reportedly sign a grosso four-year deal with the club with an annual payout of about $35 million.
In an open letter to his fans in Madrid, Ronaldo wrote that he only has "feelings of enormous gratitude for this club and for this city."
He went on: “Real Madrid has conquered my heart, and that of my family, and that is why more than ever I want to say thank you: thank you to the club, the president, the directors, my colleagues, all the staff, doctors, physios and incredible people that make everything work.”
Rumors about Ronaldo's potential departure from Madrid have been circulating for months, but they really went into over drive follow the club's Champions League title win over Liverpool in May. After hoisting the trophy, Ronaldo said, "It was very nice to be in Madrid." His choice of the past tense did not go unnoticed.
The reason for Ronaldo's departure is not entirely clear. It's assumed that after nine years and multiple trophies in Madrid, he's eager for a fresh challenge. And Madrid, while undoubtedly sad to lose him, has gotten more than it ever could have wished from this generational talent.
On the personal front, moving to Italy will give Ronaldo a new market to dominate. He's already the third highest-earning athlete in the world, pulling in $108 million last year. With a new market for endorsements, that number might actually go up this year.
Rumor has it that one sponsor in particular is already lining up for Ronaldo's services. Ferrari has reportedly kicked in some cash to help Juventus pay for Ronaldo's transfer so the iconic company could use him as its poster boy.
And they already know that he likes their car...