Casillas' agent suggests Ronaldo's paving way for Real exit

Cristiano Ronaldo, who is estimated to earn $36 million annually from endorsements, recently sold his image rights to Singapore billionaire Peter Lim's company for an undisclosed sum.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who is estimated to earn $36 million annually from endorsements, recently sold his image rights to Singapore billionaire Peter Lim's company for an undisclosed sum.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MADRID • Less than a month after Singapore billionaire Peter Lim acquired Cristiano Ronaldo's image rights, there have been suggestions that the six-year deal will be followed by a big-money move for the Real Madrid superstar.

The agent of Real legend Iker Casillas has predicted that the Portuguese forward is headed for a Bernabeu exit.

Santos Marquez believes that Ronaldo's decision to sell his image rights to Mint Media, a Hong Kong-based company owned by Valencia owner Peter Lim, indicates that he will soon leave Real.

"One day (Real president Florentino Perez) will need to explain why Cristiano works for another company outside of Real Madrid," the agent told AS. "Imagine Cristiano generating €40 million (S$59 million) elsewhere and giving it to Peter Lim, Valencia's owner. It ends up in Valencia's coffers and that's deplorable.

"Will anyone speak out and ask Florentino why Cristiano has sold his image rights to Peter Lim? That's not normal; it suggests that Cristiano is planning to leave."

His comments in a wide-ranging interview came after Casillas' controversial Real exit.

Having helped the veteran goalkeeper secure a move to Porto, Marquez insisted Perez must leave the club following the lack of respect surrounding Casillas' departure.

But it is Ronaldo's Real future that has made the headlines, with the British media yesterday speculating if the former Manchester United player will return to Old Trafford. That new Real manager Rafael Benitez plans to build his team around Gareth Bale has also intensified rumours.

Bale played in the No. 10 role in Saturday's friendly against Roma in the United States and Benitez confirmed that employing the Welshman in that position was "not an experiment".

Bale mainly featured on the right flank under Carlo Ancelotti last season, when Ronaldo at times showed his frustration towards the man who replaced him as the world's most expensive footballer.

Reports in Spain are already claiming that Ronaldo is "jealous" of Bale's starring role under Benitez. The 30-year-old remains contracted to the Spanish giants for another three years and would command a huge transfer fee should he leave.

He has netted over 300 goals for Real since his then-record £80 million (S$169 million) switch from United in 2009 and he has been one of the greatest marketing machines in football history.

The three-time Fifa World Player of the Year (2008, 2013 and 2014), is estimated by Forbes to earn US$27 million (S$36 million) annually from endorsements.

Mint Media owns and administers all his image rights, except for those relating to Real, following the deal for an undisclosed amount.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Casillas' agent suggests Ronaldo's paving way for Real exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe