Cristiano Ronaldo wants Real Madrid exit amid tax accusations - source
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo wants to quit the club and leave Spain this summer after being accused of tax evasion, a source confirmed to ESPN FC following multiple reports in Europe.
Ronaldo, A Bola reported on Friday, privately feels upset at the treatment he has received from authorities in Spain and believes he is being made an example of because of his status as a star player.
As a result, he has told Madrid of his desire to leave Spain this summer, the report in the Portuguese newspaper said.
And a source close to Ronaldo confirmed to ESPN FC that Ronaldo would prefer to play in another country rather than deal with what he sees as "persecution" in Spain.
"He is outraged -- feels great indignation with all the speculation about, for example, the tax story," the source said. "And he believes he was unfairly and disproportionately singled out as an example, despite having voluntarily paid [taxes]. He is, in fact, a victim of persecution in Spain and [the situation has] reached its limit with so much injustice.
"So, he is determined to leave Spain, yes. Let's see what will happen, but he is very, very mad with all these things."
Earlier this week, a Spanish state prosecutor accused Ronaldo, 32, of failing to pay €14.7 million on image rights earned between 2011 and 2014, saying he used a shell company in the Virgin Islands to "create a screen in order to hide his total income."
Ronaldo's agency, Gestifute, released a statement after the accusations saying that no offshore structure for evading taxes was created and stressing that "it is clear the player did not try to evade taxes."
Spain's tax authorities have pursued a number of football stars recently. Last summer, Barcelona's Lionel Messi was found guilty of tax evasion and given a suspended 21-month sentence. In December, former Real Madrid players Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho were all hit with tax charges, while Radamel Falcao has also attracted scrutiny.
Sentences less than two years for first-time offenders in Spain are usually suspended, making the players unlikely to serve jail time. However, if Ronaldo's case goes to trial, the courts could lean more heavily on him than they did Messi, both because he owes 70 percent more than his Barcelona counterpart, and because he already once attempted to settle his tax situation by paying an extra €5.6m in 2014.
Speaking on Thursday from Portugal's base in Russia ahead of the Confederations Cup, Ronaldo said that his "conscience is clear" and posted a photograph of himself holding a finger to his lips on Instagram with the caption: "Sometimes the best answer is to be quiet."
Madrid-based newspaper Marca also reported on Friday that Ronaldo is upset with his current situation and said the European champions are trying to persuade their star, who in November signed a new contract to stay with the club until 2021.
Marca reported that in addition to feeling persecuted by the Spanish authorities, the forward feels he has been treated unfairly by the media and that Madrid have not done enough to support him.
The BBC quoted a source close to Ronaldo as saying: "He feels he's honest, has good character and did everything OK. He's very sad and really upset. He doesn't want to stay in Spain. At this moment, he wants to leave."
Ronaldo's boyhood club Sporting Lisbon sent out a lighthearted tweet on Friday inviting him to come back, writing: "Cristiano, all good children return home....are you going to wait a long time?"
Ronaldo has said on several occasions that he would like to retire at Real Madrid. He ended the season scoring two goals as they won the Champions League for the third time in four years.
Under manager Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid also clinched their first La Liga title in five years last season, while the past two campaigns have been the most successful since Ronaldo signed from Manchester United in 2009.
Amid the reports, Portugal teammate Andre Silva on Friday avoided questions on Ronaldo's future but said the forward is entirely concentrated on the Confederations Cup and taking the competition very seriously.
"The only thing I can say about that is that he is motivated, focused on the national team and encouraging us to win the tournament," Silva said in a news conference ahead of Sunday's match against Mexico.
Silva added that Ronaldo is "completely focused on training" and said he is enjoying playing with him.
"It's a dream [to play with Ronaldo]," Silva said. "It's an honour to play alongside our captain."
Information from ESPN FC's Tom Marshall was used in this report.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.