Italian heavyweights Juventus are reportedly looking to sell superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of the season to avoid losing him for free in 2022.
The 35-year-old reportedly earns a whopping €31 million ($A50.3m) each year – nearly double the wages of the club’s second-highest earner, star defender Matthijs de Ligt (reportedly on €16m/$A26m).
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Given the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Italian football and Juventus’ revenue, the club is reportedly looking to cash in on the Portuguese attacker and are open to offers at the end of the current campaign, according to Spanish outletSport.
Juventus paid Real Madrid €100 million ($A162m) to land arguably the world’s greatest player in 2018, in a bid to claim Champions League glory. But that goal has been spoiled by failures at the quarterfinal and last 16 rounds in the last two seasons, while Ronaldo’s attitude has come under question for apparent selfishness in recent months.
With the 35-year-old’s contract expiring in 2022, the Turin club are reportedly looking to recoup some of that massive transfer fee and cut their wage bill by offloading their highest earner.
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Ronaldo has blasted 71 goals in 94 appearances for the club, including six goals in his first four Serie A games this season. But Juventus appear increasingly unlikely to extend his contract – particularly given his advancing age and hefty wages – and an exit at the end of the present campaign appears likely.
Meanwhile, in Ronaldo’s native Portugal, police raided Benfica football club as part of a corruption investigation linked to player transfers, the two-time European champions and investigators confirmed on Monday.
The Portuguese general prosecutor’s office revealed that it had carried out nearly 30 searches, including at the premises of Benfica and fellow top division club Santa Clara, in a probe into a range of financial crimes including money laundering.
Prosecutors said they were investigating “a range of cases, all linked to professional football”, adding that they were related to sporting and financial partnerships, the acquisition by clubs of players’ sporting rights and “loans agreed with a Singapore national”.
Broadcaster TVI reported that Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira is the main target of the authorities, who carried out the searches in order to move forward ongoing investigations.
TVI also report that prosecutors are focusing on the transfer of three Libyan players who signed for Santa Clara.
Vieira, 71, is to be tried in a corruption trial alongside 16 other people, including three judges, and was also indicted in a tax fraud probe targeting Benfica, who have also been implicated in match fixing.
Ronaldo started his illustrious career at Sporting CP, long-time rivals of Benfica.