Manchester United Transfer News: All Those Times Cristiano Ronaldo Was ‘Unhappy’ at Real Madrid But Stayed Anyway

Cristiano Ronaldo is, even at a tender age of 32, assured of his status one of football’s all-time-great players.

Ronaldo is already Real Madrid’s record goalscorer and an undisputed club icon.

He has also reportedly endured bouts of unhappiness, often, during his eight years in the Spanish capital. On every one of those occasions, Real has found a way to placate Ronaldo. As rumors and reports swirl about a potential return to Manchester United this summer, here are all the times Ronaldo and Real fell out, before the union was mended.

April 2011

Perhaps just one reason why a reunion with Mourinho at United would be a bad idea all round. The Portuguese dropped his countryman for the La Liga game against Real Zaragoza after a disagreement over Ronaldo’s defensive duties. Or, because Real had a Champions League semifinal second leg against Barcelona three days after.

Result: Ronaldo stayed, though Mourinho’s time in charge of Real continued to be fractious until he departed at the end of the 2012-13 season.

September 2012

Ronaldo refused to celebrate his two goals in a La Liga game against Granada and then came out with an extraordinarily plain statement explaining his behavior. “I’m sad — when I don’t celebrate goals it’s because I’m not happy,” Ronaldo said in quotes reported by the Daily Telegraph. “It’s a professional thing. Real Madrid know why I’m not happy.”

Ronaldo was reported to be unhappy because Spain had just tightened up the “Beckham Law,” named after the former England captain, which granted foreign workers favorable tax status.

Result: Ronaldo stayed and signed a five-year contract extension in September 2013.

September 2014

Angel Di Maria, then Ronaldo’s teammate at Real, claimed Ronaldo was “unhappy” in the Spanish capital. "I don't know how much longer Ronaldo can put up with it at Madrid. I get the impression that he is not very happy," Di Maria said. The Independent claimed Ronaldo’s malaise was down to money—with Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Wayne Rooney earning more than him at the time.

Result: Ronaldo stayed and enjoyed another ridiculous season, becoming the first player in the history of Spanish football to hit 50 goals in five consecutive years.

July 2015

The summer that saw Real transition from the management of Carlo Ancelotti to Rafael Benitez was a febrile one for Ronaldo. Santos Marquez, the agent for Iker Casillas, claimed Ronaldo was “ planning to leave ” in a dispute over his image rights. Ronaldo was also reportedly unhappy with the tactics of Benitez—like Mourinho, a defensively minded coach.

Result: Ronaldo stayed and hit the 50-goal mark for the sixth successive season.

February 2016

"I don't want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren't available it's harder to win," Ronaldo said following Real’s 1-0 derby defeat to Atletico Madrid. He later clarified his statement. "When I say that, I am talking about my fitness level, not my level as a player. I am no better than any of my teammates," Ronaldo told Marca.

Result: Under its former player Zinedine Zidane and propelled by Ronaldo’s goals, Real won the Champions League, beating Atletico on penalties in the final. Ronaldo signed a new five-year contract in November 2016. And, yes, he stayed.

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