Real ropes Ronaldo
Brazilian star will arrive in Madrid MondayPosted: Saturday August 31, 2002 6:09 PM
Updated: Saturday August 31, 2002 8:47 PM
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Real Madrid said Saturday it had signed Brazilian star striker Ronaldo from Inter Milan.
Madrid sports director Jorge Valdano said just after midnight local time that Ronaldo's signing on a four-year contract was "a very happy day for the club".
"It's been a very hectic day but in the end it had a very happy ending," Valdano said. "We are very satisfied. We have signed one of the world's best players."
Inter confirmed the deal on its Web site, but did not give any further details.
Ronaldo was seen leaving Inter headquarters guarded from fans by a police escort shortly after the deal was announced, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
In addition, the deal reportedly includes the transfer of an undetermined Madrid player to Inter, although the player will not move to Italy until January.
The reports valued the total deal at 45 million euros ($44.5 million).
Valdano said that Ronaldo will wear the number 11 shirt since Fernando Morientes has Ronaldo's customary number nine jersey.
Madrid's announcement ended weeks of intense speculation in the Italian and Spanish media regarding Ronaldo's status.
The speculation mounted Saturday with a report that Argentine striker Hernan Crespo had been transferred to Inter from Lazio to replace the Brazilian star.
In announcing the Ronaldo deal late Saturday, Inter also confirmed that it had acquired Crespo.
Inter fans' displeasure with Ronaldo had grown rapidly since the reports first surfaced several weeks ago. They contended that he owes something to the club, which paid and supported him while he spent most of the last three years recovering from knee injuries.
Ronaldo returned from long-term injury this year to emerge as the World Cup's leading scorer with eight goals and lead Brazil to its fifth world title.
Since then, he missed both of Inter's two official matches this season, when the team qualified for the Champions League against Sporting Lisbon.
The start of Italy's Serie A season was delayed two weeks to Sept. 14-15 due to television contract problems. Madrid's first match is Monday.
Ronaldo is the third of the world's great players to arrive at Madrid in successive summers since Florentino Perez's election as club president in July 2000.
This will be Ronaldo's second spell in Spain. He had a highly successful year at Barcelona in the 1996-97 season, when he was voted European and World soccer player of the year.
Ronaldo began his professional career with Brazilian side Cruzeiro in 1993 and made his first appearance with a European club in 1994 for Dutch team PSV Eindhoven. After two seasons with PSV and the year at Barcelona, he moved to Inter in 1997.