Real Madrid CF have agreed a €45m deal to sign Internazionale FC's Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
In a deal which looks the most significant transfer of the summer, the FIFA World Cup hero - whose contract with Internazionale was not due to expire until 2006 - has joined the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League winners a day after they overwhelmed Feyenoord to win the UEFA Super Cup.
After long negotiations on Saturday night, Madrid agreed to pay Internazionale €35m over the next five years for Ronaldo, whose place in the Inter squad will be filled by Argentinian striker Hernán Crespo, who joined the club from S.S. Lazio earlier this evening with former AC Chievo Verona star Bernardo Corradi moving in the opposite direction.
In addition to the fee, Inter have been promised a player of their choice from the Madrid squad who they will be able to sign during the winter transfer window. Commentators have suggested that this clause raises the value of the deal to something like €45m.
Beset by injuries
The 26-year-old Ronaldo joined Inter in the summer of 1997 from FC Barcelona but his five-year spell was beset by injuries, including a career-threatening knee problem that needed extensive surgery. However, when fit he maintained an incredible strike rate of 49 goals in 68 Serie A appearances for the San Siro club.
Ronaldo returned to Italy after holidaying in Brazil following this summer's World Cup amid rumours that he was not happy at Inter and was seeking a move. The speculation was given further credence when Inter coach Héctor Cúper omitted Ronaldo from his side's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round match against Sporting Clube de Portugal and Inter president Massimo Moratti said that he could leave if the club received "a serious offer".
Ronaldo has admitted he prefers the style of play in Spain, where he had his year with Barcelona, to the Italian way. "My way of playing football is the Brazilian style, one based on fantasy, an offensive and less tactical one than the Italian. A way that is closer to the Spanish version," he said.
With Madrid having shown their striking class against Feyenoord in Monaco on Friday night, Ronaldo should add yet another fine weapon to their attacking armoury. But as Zinedine Zidane told uefa.com in a recent interview, he at least is not concerned about the additional competition for first-team places.
'A very talented player'
"When a team has such skilful players as Madrid does, others want to come to the club," he said. "In the case of Ronaldo, he is a very talented player and I would be glad to share a team with him as I have met him before.
"Anyway, if Ronaldo comes I could be more calm because the media would go after him and not me, and our opponents would also have another great player to be aware of," added the French international midfield player.