Re-elected Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has described the uncertainty surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s future as “very strange”.
Reigning Ballon d’Or and Best FIFA Men’s Player award winner Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Manchester United having been “outraged” by what he feels is unfair treatment by Spanish tax authorities, making him determined to leave the country.
The 32-year-old only signed a new deal with Real in November and is under contract until 2021, though his unhappiness has caused an issue for Perez as he begins his new term as the head of the European and Spanish champions.
When speaking publicly on Monday, having run unopposed to return as president for the next four years, Perez did not reference Ronaldo when discussing the current state of Los Blancos.
But in a later interview with radio station Onda Cero he revealed he had plans to talk to the Portuguese in the coming days.
In quotes carried on Marca’s website, Perez said: “I have not spoken to him. I’ve heard about the Cristiano situation from what newspapers have written.
“I know Cristiano, he’s a good guy as a professional and as a person. This is very strange and in the next few days I’ll talk to him.
“I must defend him at all costs, both as a player and as a person. What I will say is that everyone must fulfill their tax obligations. I have no doubt that Cristiano will be able to defend himself.
“What they have told me is that he has the same financial arrangements as he had in England, where he had no problems.”
Press Association Sport understands Ronaldo feels he has been singled out for disproportionate treatment after prosecutors accused him of defrauding the authorities of 14.7million euros (£12.8m).
Free-spending Paris St-Germain has also been linked with a move for Ronaldo but it is United who look to be at the front of the queue for a player Bayern Munich have denied interest in, with Jose Mourinho’s men reported to be preparing a record bid to bring the forward back to Old Trafford.
Perez’s latest four-year term has started as many of his previous ones have – with frenzied transfer speculation about which big-name players might arrive at the club and, perhaps more crucially in this instance as Ronaldo’s future dominates the headlines, who might end up leaving.
The Madrid electoral board met overnight and, with no other candidate putting themselves forward for election ahead of the deadline, it was confirmed that the long-serving Perez would continue in the role, taking his overall stay in the position to 18 years.
The 70-year-old, who was re-elected in 2009 having previously held the post between 2000-06, is the second most successful president in Real’s history in terms of football trophies won during his tenure, behind only Santiago Bernabeu who served between 1943 and 1978 and who the club’s stadium is named after.
Ronaldo was a world-record signing of intent from United after Perez returned as president eight years ago, the forward being part of a £225million summer spending spree that also saw the likes of Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso move to Real.
The Portuguese has since become Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer, winning individual and collective awards aplenty during his stay in the Spanish capital.
Ronaldo is currently in Russia at the Confederations Cup, where Portugal got their campaign under way with a 2-2 draw against Mexico on Sunday.
The 32-year-old was named man of the match but did not attend the post-match press conference as required, perhaps wary of the questions that would follow.
However, a glum-looking Ronaldo did do a short post-match interview with FIFA’s in-house media.
“It was not the result we wanted, the team had almost won and we suffered in the last minutes, but this is football,” he said.
“The team continues to believe in qualification, we have great possibilities because there are still two games left.
“We are calm and we have to think about the next game. We have to win, because if we win the next game we will be one step away from qualifying.
“We do not have to sound the alarm.”
Madrid’s state prosecutor has alleged Ronaldo used an offshore company to hide a portion of his income from the tax office.
However, a statement from Ronaldo’s management company Gestifute insisted the company, Tollin, which was established during Ronaldo’s time with Manchester United, has acted in accordance with British and Spanish tax laws.