CRISTIANO Ronaldo’s blistering start to 2018 could see him finally convince Real Madrid to reach his contract demands, just two months after sensational reports of the Portuguese ace irrevocably falling out with club president Florentino Perez.
Ronaldo had been involved in a public power play in January, with Spanish publications AS , Marca and Sport all claiming he “felt cheated” and “betrayed” by Real’s failure to fulfil their promise of a bumper new contract that would see him earn more than Lionel Messi and Neymar.
But now, Ronaldo’s 21 goals since the turn of the new year means he is in the kind of form that could convince the Spanish giants to meet his astronomical terms.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Perez has now been convinced Ronaldo can maintain his freakish scoring feats for years to come and is prepared to reward his start with a new contract, despite his current deal running until 2021.
That would mean a significant pay rise for Ronaldo, who is currently just the game’s sixth highest earner and pockets €21m (AU$33.7m) a season.
Arch rival Messi, by comparison, takes home a reported €50m ($80m) a year gross in salary, while his new contract included a €100m ($160m) signing fee, to be paid in five equal instalments over the five years of the deal.
The Daily Mail reports Real Madrid will intent to boost Ronaldo’s financial package to €35m ($56m) a season, which is still some way off his Barcelona rival.
Where Ronaldo could come out on top over Messi is in the Spanish golden boot race, after his incredible run of form brought to the public’s attention an audacious bet made to his Real Madrid teammates.
CR7 is now just three goals behind Messi in the race for the Pichichi trophy for top scorer in La Liga, despite scoring just once in his first 11 league games.
During that time, Messi had netted 12 goals and it looked all but impossible for Ronaldo to catch up, but the 33-year-old has now scored 18 goals in nine La Liga matches.
Incredibly, El Transistor host Jose Ramon de la Morena on Radio Onda Cero, had claimed in November that Ronaldo had bet two of his own teammates he would catch the Argentine.
One Real teammate, Nacho, has said the squad doesn’t know what Ronaldo has changed to spark such a strong scoring run – which included a four-goal haul over the weekend.
“Cristiano is unreal,” said Nacho.
“Once again this season he’s proving that he’s the world’s best. He began with the suspension, and then he wasn’t putting his chances away. That was strange for him, the fact that he wasn’t scoring. He’s now helping the team, and that’s really positive for us.”
The run of form also means Ronaldo is now just six goals of current race leader for the European Golden Shoe – Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
“He’s unbelievably ambitious and that comes across in every training session and in everything he does on the field,” coach Zinedine Zidane said of his star.
“If he has a penalty in training, he will take it with the maximum concentration. It’s what makes him different from the rest.”
In typically humble fashion, Ronaldo has even heaped praise on himself in a new advert for Nike’s Mercurial Superfly 360 boots – claiming he has never seen players who could match his dedication and work ethic.
“In the beginning I was dreaming to be best player in the world,” Ronaldo said.
“Friends of mine, they look at me like, ‘what are you talking about?’.
“I played for fun, for a joke, but in my mind I think that potential started in Manchester, that’s when I started to believe.
“I don’t see many people with my talent, my dedication, my work, my ethic of football. No-one is going to be compared with me, no-one is going to be Cristiano Ronaldo. You’re going to be yourself, I’m going to be myself.”