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Ronaldo to pick up £29m-a-year from Real?

Real Madrid-bound winger Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to become one of the highest paid sports stars in the world.

A report in Friday's Times newspaper claims that although the player, who is set to complete a word record £80m move from Manchester United to Real by the end of the month, would initially earn £9.5m-a-year the contract would include a 25% increase season-on season.

The 24-year-old is expected to sign a six-year contract at the Bernabeu, which means by the final year he would be on £29m-a-year - or £557,000-a-week - which is reportedly 33 times what the average Spaniard earns. And this is in a country which is suffering from high unemployment of over 18%.

It means the player will pocket £107m over the length of his contract. But it would not put him in the top five of the sporting pay league, which is led by golfer Tiger Woods.

Ronaldo, who celebrated his move by partying the night away with Paris Hilton in Los Angeles, has revealed his pride at being the subject of an ''historic'' £80m bid from Real.

''I have had my time at Man United. It's time to look forward and £80m is quite a sum of money. This deal is historic,'' said Ronaldo. ''It's flattering when two of the top teams in the world want you to play for them.

''Now I can look forward to Real Madrid and a new stage in my career. I learned of the deal here in LA and heard from my people that United had accepted.''

Ronaldo will also benefit from healthy tax breaks provided by the Spanish government which would not be available to him in England. It is a situation which one financial expert believes could force other big names to leave the Premier League. Arsenal's Andrei Arshavin is already disillusioned at his tax bill.

Joe McLean, a partner with Grant Thornton, believes high-earning stars will inevitably be drawn to countries like Spain due to the prospect of the 50% income tax rate coming into force in the UK next April.

''By going to Spain, Ronaldo will be paying several million pounds a year less in tax,'' McLean told said.

''His advisors will undoubtedly have been saying to him that, although Manchester United and Real Madrid are both superstar clubs, the fact is in the UK he will pay £5m in tax on £10m, whereas in Spain it will be £2.5m.

''Over a four-year contract that's a huge amount of money, so it becomes of relevance. It might not be a major factor in deciding where players go, but it is certainly a factor.''

There remains questions marks over the financial of Real's summer transfer boom, with the signing of Kaka making it an outlay of £139m with David Villa likely to be the next player through the door.

In Spain it has been claimed that Banco Santander have provided credit of €70m to be repaid over four years.

Uefa chief executive Michel Platini has already voiced his disapproval and now wants new transfer rules in place.

Galway-based has worked out that Ronaldo is worth 57 times his weight in gold.


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