Move over U2, now Real’s Ronaldo rocks
Watching Cristiano Ronaldo getting the rock star treatment at a packed Bernabeu stadium on Monday night, I found myself thinking back to the U2 concert I had been to at Barcelona’s Camp Nou last week.
At a record $130 million, the Portuguese winger has cost Real considerably more than the Irish band’s entire world tour, which kicked off in the Catalan capital and is reported to be their most expensive to date at an estimated $100 million.
Industry publications believe the 360 tour could earn Bono & co. as much as $400 million, while Real president Florentino Perez is banking on Ronaldo and fellow new signing Kaka shifting enough shirts and other merchandise to maintain the club’s place at the top of the rich list.
He also hopes to use his new signings as bargaining chips to help him negotiate lucrative contracts for marketing and audiovisual rights.
Bono donned a Barcelona shirt midway through last week’s concert and praised the club for being the only one to carry the Unicef logo.
But at the Bernabeu on Monday it was all about showing off the most expensive and glamorous player in the world, reportedly on an annual net wage of 13 million euros.
“I have always said that if a club wants the best players it has to pay,” a beaming Ronaldo told reporters at a post-presentation news conference. “I am happy to be the world’s most valuable player and I feel proud.”
Perez the showman has successfully stolen the headlines from arch rivals and last season’s treble-winners Barcelona in recent weeks.
He has also managed to deflect attention from the fact that his previous attempt to build a team of superstars ended in failure and he abandoned the club in early 2006 as they headed towards a third straight trophy-less season.
We’ll have to wait until the next campaign begins to see whether his latest attempt will prove more successful.
The signings of Ronaldo, Kaka and France striker Karim Benzema have created a spectacular forward line but the rest of the side still looks rather ordinary.
Writing in Marca newspaper on Tuesday, former Spain coach Javier Clemente said Real needed to strengthen their central midfield and defence.
“If they don’t build a stronger and more stable defence than last year I don’t know if the magnificent players they have bought will be much use,” he wrote. “The great teams are built from the back.”
He added that it was odd that Barcelona had remained so quiet in recent weeks and had yet to make any forays into the transfer market, but noted that they did not really need to make any changes.
“Luckily for Barcelona, these recent victories for Real Madrid are not sporting results and don’t bring points in the league table. They (Barca) are still the team to beat.”
PHOTO: Real Madrid’s new Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo greets the crowd during his presentation at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, July 6, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina