Real Madrid’s pre-season began with a 4–1 victory over MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy, with goals from Callejón, Joselu, Ronaldo, and Benzema.Four days later Ronaldo scored a second half hat-trick in a 3–0 win against Guadalajara. Ronaldo’s preseason performance was highly praised as world media kept hailing Ronaldo’s extreme competitiveness and motivation, even during friendly matches. On 17 August 2011, Ronaldo scored his 100th goal with Real Madrid with a first-half equaliser against Barcelona in the second leg of the 2011 Spanish Supercup in the Camp Nou. On 27 August 2011, he opened the 2011–12 La Liga season with a hat-trick in a 6–0 win at Real Zaragoza.
What matters most, of course, is that the deal which rumbled on all summer long is complete at last. Yet the lengths Madrid went to fudge the financial details, at least publicly, show just how much it felt the need to keep its biggest star happy. And despite all the excitement and fanfare that greeted Bale’s arrival in Spain, Ronaldo is still the man, at least for the foreseeable future.
When the Portuguese superstar switched to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium from Manchester United in 2009, the agreed fee of $124 million was so large that it seemed unlikely to be broken for years to come. But Bale’s transfer showed that, provided the right freakonomic factors are present, there is no end to soccer’s ability to defy the typical principles of finance.
Madrid is a club that prides itself on its financial muscle-flexing and would have enjoyed nothing more than to have announced another world-record fee. Heck, the last four occasions the record has been broken, Madrid has been the big buyer each time, including $80 million in 2009 for Brazil’s Kaka, who was quietly allowed to leave for nothing last week.
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