Juventus have begun a serious move to liberate Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid after an incredible nine-year stint in the Spanish capital.
Ronaldo has made noises about wanting to depart from Los Blancos before, usually in a bid to earn a better contract to keep him up at the top table of earners with Neymar and Lionel Messi, but the institutional chaos at Real surrounding Zinedine Zidane's departure and Julen Lopetegui's controversial appointment have given the Italian side a space to move into.
Marca report that Juventus are looking to take advantage of 'insurmountable' differences between Ronaldo and club president Florentino Perez, whose grip on the club's dealings has become tighter than ever following the departure of Zidane - one of the few Real managers to have the clout, thanks to his playing career and unrivalled success in the Champions League, to truly challenge the president on transfers.
Despite recent rumours to the contrary, Ronaldo's release clause remains locked in at €1,000m - but Perez is willing to listen to realistic offers for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who turned 33 earlier this year.
The Spanish report claims that Ronaldo and Real have a deal which will see them allow him to leave for less than his outlandish release clause, reached in January, which puts an entirely new complexion on the situation as the Champions League holders begin to consider building a future in which their ageing star is not the foundation.
Marca claim that Juventus are close to agreeing basic terms with Ronaldo which would see him earn €30m a year until 2022 - €5m a year more than Real have offered him, and on an extended deal which would take him through to the age of 37.
38 - This will be Cristiano Ronaldo's 38th match in the World Cup/European Championships - no player has played more across the two competitions (Bastian Schweinsteiger also 38). Quantity. #POR #URUPOR #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/MXlCuChTAC— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 30, 2018
The principle of the deal is that the move is not solely about money - Ronaldo is a rich enough man - but the respect and worth that the money would symbolise, for a player who above all has a pathological need to be wanted and valued.