Gareth Bale's big night gave way to Cristiano Ronaldo's big day as Real Madrid followed up the Welshman's debut with the announcement of the signing that the club's supporters wanted more than any other. Ronaldo has extended his contract at the Santiago Bernabéu until 2018, when he will be 33.
Madrid have not confirmed Ronaldo's salary or whether he was handed a re-signing fee but some sources suggest he will be on as much as €18m a year after tax, plus 50% of his image rights, making him the world's best-paid player. Ronaldo had entered into the final two years of his deal, strengthening his hand and increasing concerns that he would choose to move on, possibly even for free. It is just over a year since Ronaldo admitted he was "sad". Now, though, he was beaming.
At one point the Portuguese appeared to confirm that Manchester United were among the clubs that had shown an interest in him – and he did not entirely rule out a move at the end of his career, refusing to state categorically that he will retire at Madrid. But he insisted he "never" had any intention of heading elsewhere and described United as his "past"; "my present," he said, "is Real Madrid." He has 204 goals in 203 games for Real Madrid (although one of those is disputed); in all probability he will finish his career as the club's all-time leading scorer. Raúl stands on 323.
Madrid departed Villarreal at almost 1am on Sunday, having drawn 2-2. Ronaldo, like Gareth Bale, had scored. Within 10 hours, Madrid announced that Ronaldo had agreed a new deal and just before one o'clock, he appeared at the Santiago Bernabéu wearing glasses. The club president Florentino Pérez described this as ‚"a great day", one in which the "desires of all Madrid supporters were fulfilled".
It also undermines suggestions that Ronaldo was unhappy at the arrival of Bale – certainly to the point of pushing him closer to the exit. "I am grateful that the president reached an agreement in the end," Ronaldo said with a grin. "This is something I always wanted. I don't know if I will retire at 34 but I want to satisfy the fans. That never happened [that I thought of leaving]. I am very happy.
"It might have seemed like a long time to you [for a deal to be finally reached] but it did not seem so long to me and anyway," he added, almost giggling, "it had a happy finish … if I can say that." Sources close to Ronaldo have confirmed he has privately insisted that if he ever did leave the Bernabéu, Old Trafford remains his preferred destination. Asked more directly about Paris St-Germain, he again implied heavily that there had indeed been an approach. "Maybe," he said. "But it wasn't something that I really wanted. For me, Madrid is the top and if you leave Madrid you want to stay at the very top.
"Everyone knows that I was very happy at Manchester United for six years and it was a club that gave me everything. I am, and always will be, grateful but Manchester United is my past, Real Madrid is my present. My home is here, my family and I am very happy," Ronaldo said.
"I respect the clubs that knocked on the door to ask about me but they know that my only goal was to play for Real Madrid. Maybe at the end of my career; I don't know what the future holds but I am here and I am happy."
Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes, who sat just behind the player and president just before the event began, had once expressed his hope to be able to represent the best-paid player in the world. Although Madrid would not formally reveal what Ronaldo will be earning, he was asked if the new deal made him the best-paid player in the world, ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on €17m a year. The question was posed in an ingenuous way and again Ronaldo grinned. There was the hint of a laugh.
"That's not the most important thing," he said. "Is money important? Yes, it is but it is not the priority. The priority was the project for the future. It does not matter if I am the first, second or third best-paid player in the world." Before this renewal he was not in the top three at all: those positions were occupied by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Radamel Falcao and Lionel Messi.
It is not purely about the figures themselves but what they represent. The question of status mattered too.
Madrid have sought to make him feel important. Pérez's effusiveness here was based on Ronaldo's brilliance but also on the desire to make him feel supported, something which has not always been the case. It was a theme Ronaldo returned to often: "I feel the backing of the president, the players and the club," he repeated a number of times. That had taken work. Madrid have been keen to make him happy. They sought to convince him that Bale had not overtaken him as the most expensive player in history and Pérez called him the best player in the world here, likening him to Alfredo Di Stéfano and describing him as a man capable of "changing the destiny of the club".
As he walked into the room, a video of his best moments for Madrid was played to the soundtrack of Tina Turner's Simply the Best. The relationship with the president has not always been as warm as either man would have liked. It had been Pérez's predecessor Ramón Calderón who had reached the agreement to bring in the Portuguese in the first place. Ronaldo also refused to be drawn on suggestions that this is the best squad Madrid have had and he did not shirk questions about the departure of Mesut Özil, about which he was reported to be angry.
"That was a decision of the president and the people who run the club and we have to respect that," he said. "We have our opinions but that stays with us."
He added: "Maybe I was a little sad [a year ago]. Perhaps I should not have said it so publicly: I made a mistake there, I am not perfect but that is normal: it happens to everyone. You have good days and not so good ones. That chapter is closed now; I am happy – happy to be here for another five years."
And then he popped his glasses back on and, pulling a face and laughing, posed for another round of photos.