Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo wants to become the first footballer to earn £400,000 a week, according to an ESPN source.
Because of Spain’s punitive tax laws, Ronaldo would need to break through the £400,000-a-week barrier for a big pay rise to take effect.
As Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain look on with interest, negotiations to secure Ronaldo’s future at the Bernabeu have got under way.
Ronaldo has issued a public statement insisting that his remarks about his “sadness” at the club were not related to finance.
But the source said he would want to double his current salary, and this would help to convince him the club was willing to fight for his future.
The Portugal international had been the world’s best-paid player when moving to the Bernabeu on a £200,000-a-week deal in 2009, but he has since slipped down the pecking order, with the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Neymar and Wayne Rooney all earning more.
Additionally, Madrid currently own 50% of Ronaldo’s image rights, and he has overtaken David Beckham as the game’s most lucrative commercial property in terms of shirt sales.
Ronaldo remains under contract until 2015, and his buyout clause would appear prohibitive even for the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain. A move to Russia or China would not appeal to him, ESPN understands.