Cristiano Ronaldo wants out of Real Madrid, or at least that was the hot rumor on Friday. Check a paper and someone had it.
Apparently, Ronaldo is upset that he's been accused of tax fraud and thinks he's been unfairly targeted because he's a famous and wealthy so he wants to leave Spain. That would obviously mean a transfer.
A Portuguese outlet, Bola, first reported the news, then others found "sources close to Ronaldo" to confirm it.
Ronaldo has been accused of putting money from his image rights in an offshore account and keeping more than €14 million in taxes out of the hands of Spanish authorities. Exactly how much evidence the prosecutors have and how far they're willing to take this is unclear, but they've made it clear that they believe something illegal happened with Ronaldo and his finances.
However, leaving Spain would mean leaving the back-to-back Champions League champions Real Madrid, who are arguably the biggest club in the world and pay him very handsomely. That seems highly unlikely at this point.
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Didn't this happen with someone else?
Remember, Lionel Messi was found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to 21 months in prison -- which he didn't have to serve because Spanish law lets people avoid it if their sentence is under two years and they're a first time offender.
But while that saga came to an end earlier this year, it started long ago. And when Messi was first accused of tax fraud, he vehemently denied it, like Ronaldo has, and then there were rumors he would leave Barcelona because he wanted out of Spain for being ... you got it, targeted on account of his fame and wealth. "Sources close to Messi" went around saying he wanted out.
You may have noticed that Messi didn't leave Barcelona or Spain.
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So what is Ronaldo doing?
Leaving Spain won't make his tax fraud issues go away. Spain will still pursue the matter and, if they see fit, demand back payment then potentially even push for conviction. All of that won't be affected by whether he plays for Real Madrid, Manchester United, in MLS, China or wherever he might go outside of Spain.
What Ronaldo has done in getting these rumors going is put the focus on whether he'll leave Real Madrid. No longer are we talking about his tax fraud and what he did or do not do wrong. The conversation is about soccer, which is where Ronaldo wants it to be. He might even turn the ire of Real Madrid fans toward the tax office.
Either way, Ronaldo has spun the conversation. And while we'll sit here and talk about whether he will leave Real Madrid or not, this isn't what's going to push him out the door. If he leaves, it'll be because he wants to try MLS and living somewhere like LA, or he feuds with the manager -- probably not Zinedine Zidane because they get along great -- or any number of things. Not wanting to be in Spain because of the tax fraud case isn't going to be the read, just like it wasn't for Messi.