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Ronaldo given muted send-off by Spanish media

MADRID, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Three-times World Player of the Year Ronaldo was given a muted send-off by the Spanish media on Wednesday after his 7.5 million-euro ($9.72 million) move from Real Madrid to AC Milan.

The normally Real Madrid-obsessed sports daily Marca practically ignored the player on its front pages, preferring instead to concentrate on Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and his pre-season testing sessions in Valencia.

The regular papers limited their coverage to brief information pieces, while sports daily AS was the only one to devote significant space to the departure of the 30-year-old Brazilian.

AS focused on Ronaldo's thinly veiled criticisms of Real coach Fabio Capello who effectively forced the striker to leave the Bernabeu and went on to examine the end of the Galactico era at the club.

'Madrid has impoverished its squad, the shining brilliance of the Galacticos has gone, but that is not the worst thing,' said editor Alfredo Relano.

'The worst thing is that the galaxy has been killed off because of the indecisions and brutishness of Capello who hasn't lived up to expectations in any respect.'

Fans appeared to be evenly divided as to whether the decision to sell Ronaldo was a wise one, with 54 percent of the nearly 25,000 fans polled by Marca saying Real had made a mistake and 46 per cent agreeing with the club's decision.

Rival players and coaches, however, were unanimous in their belief that Ronaldo's departure would be a major loss for a domestic competition that has become known as the 'la liga de las estrellas' (the league of the stars).

'Having Ronie in the league was a massive thing given his quality and everything that he has achieved,' fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho said at the end of last week when it was clear Ronaldo was going to leave Spain.

'Spanish football is losing a lot with his departure,' said another Brazilian Marcos Assuncao. 'He is the best in the world and Madrid will miss him.'

Ronaldo scored 104 goals for Real in his four and a half years in Madrid and his goals were crucial in firing the club to their last major trophy, the league title in 2003.

This season he made the starting line-up for just three of Real's 20 league games, scoring just once.