Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Real Madrid to join Italian club Juventus in a move expected to benefit the Portugal forward’s tax return.
Juventus said Tuesday it paid 112 million euros ($131.5 million) for Ronaldo, who signed a four-year deal with the Serie A champions.
The move brings an end to a hugely successful nine-year spell in Spain, and distances him from a tax fraud case that may end up costing the Portugal forward more than $20 million in fines.
“These years with Real Madrid and in this city of Madrid have been possibly the happiest of my life,” Ronaldo wrote in an open letter. “My only feeling is of an enormous gratitude for this club, for these fans and for this city. I can only thank them all for the love and affection I have received.
“But I think the time has come to start a new phase in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept my transfer. I feel that it is time, and I ask everyone, especially our fans, to please understand me.”
Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 from Manchester United and was the Spanish club’s all-time leading scorer with 451 goals in 438 matches. He helped the club win four Champions League titles and also won the league and cup twice each. He has scored a record 120 Champions League goals, 105 of them since moving to Madrid – 12 more than Juventus managed in that same period.
But he was unhappy with the way the tax authorities treated him in Spain. Ronaldo, along with several other top players in the country, has been accused of tax fraud, with authorities saying the government was defrauded of 14.7 million euros ($17 million) from 2011-14.