Ronaldo moved from Inter to Real Madrid at the end of August 2002, towards the end of the summer transfer window. The transfer amount was 45 million euros, but in fact the Madrid club paid 10 million euros less for the Brazilian.
Oddly enough, Real Madrid was helped by Barcelona.
How did it happen?
The story was shared by journalist Zach Lowy, citing Sid Lowe’s book Fear and Loathing in La Liga.
In the last hours of the summer transfer window, Real Madrid were urgently looking for funds to acquire Ronaldo. The money could have come from Barcelona, which just offered €15m for Fernando Morientes. But two hours before the deadline, the deal fell through – the parties did not agree on the terms of the contract. “Real” risked missing the Brazilian, which was only in the hands of “Barcelona”.
By that time, Inter had already bought Hernan Crespo, and club president Massimo Moratti did not want to keep two star forwards at the club at once. Due to the fact that Real Madrid could not sell Morientes, Inter’s chances to get rid of Ronaldo were fading before our eyes. I had to make concessions – as a result, Real Madrid paid not 45 million euros for Ronaldo, but 35. At the same time, the clubs agreed that Real Madrid would either give Santiago Solari or Steve McManaman to Inter, or pay an additional 10 million euros with a bonus.
Solari was expected to move to Inter in January 2003 as part of the Ronaldo deal. But the transition fell through, and Inter never received 10 million euros from Real Madrid (why is unknown). Solari ended up at Inter only 2.5 years later, but the transfer no longer had anything to do with the transition of Ronaldo.
How did the Ronaldo talks go?
The deal was closed only a few minutes before the transfer window closed – although rumors of persistent interest in Ronaldo from Real Madrid appeared a few weeks before that.
A week before the transfer window closed, Real Madrid even announced they were pulling out of the deal. But Ronaldo replied that in any case he intends to leave Inter – this prompted Madrid to return to negotiations.
Ronaldo waited for the results at Inter headquarters. Outside at this time, about two hundred fans of the Milanese club gathered, who actively protested against the transfer of the Brazilian.
The collapse of the deal with Barça over Morientes further complicated the process. There is a version that Joan Gaspar (then president of Barça) deliberately disrupted the transfer of Morientes in order to prevent Real Madrid from acquiring Ronaldo. Gaspar’s motivation, according to Lowe, was to take revenge on Madrid for the transfer of Figo, which happened two years earlier.
Gaspard’s revenge failed – Inter and Real nevertheless found a compromise and shook hands.
“This is a happy day for Real Madrid. We are very happy to have signed one of the best players in the world,” Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano said after the transfer. At the same time, Jorge stressed that without the great desire of the Brazilian, nothing would have happened. “He was ready for a pay cut and was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to play for Real Madrid.
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