He likes to be spotted in pink tops, sports hats with flowers, defends his penchant for donning tight trunks because he does not care for tan lines and has an appreciation of the Latino sounds of Ricky Martin. It seems Cristiano Ronaldo, a figure who thrives as vividly in pilot shades and bling jewellery as shinguards and deep heat, will soon be living la vida loca in Madrid. This astonishing transfer is defined by exorbitant fees, a treasure trail to the Spanish capital for the sport's capital asset.
When the Manchester United player finally picks up his manbag and reaches Madrid, he will apparently sign a six-year contract worth a reputed 211,000 per week (Dh1.1million). Ronaldo is a man of our times who yesterday became the footballer of the day. For £80m (Dh484m)such a fashionable move will soon see Ronaldo slip into a tasty little white number. Ronaldo is a figure ablaze with identities, a sporting chameleon, who revels in his mahogany tan and pouting characteristics. He wears it well. This young Portuguese fellow seems to have sailed the seven seas at the age of 24. He is the World Player of the Year. He could easily be a male model in Madrid fashion week. He will settle for his impending place as football's costliest player at such a ripsnorting price.
The descent of the cream of world football has been forever associated with Real, with Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas in the 1950s, through to Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo in the early 2000s. It has arrived at Ronaldo, a man endorsed by GQ, as comfortable in Hello magazine as Four Four Two, a figure who likes to be seen out and about, whether in Hollywood or Hull City. The Spanish club, the royal team in Spain, hope Ronaldo will be their missing link having completed a season in which they were flogged 6-2 by Barcelona in relinquishing the Spanish Primera Liga. Whatever Real are buying, Ronado is reportedly purchasing a nightclub in Lisbon, but his first club of choice as a player has always been Real. Ronaldo has scored 118 goals in 292 games for United, 26 coming last season over a period that some viewed as disappointing. He made a rod for his own back by posting some searing figures, 42 times he scored, in helping United to the Premier League and Champions League a year ago. Whoever United buy to replace him, they will miss him around the old place.
Ronaldo is what is known in modern parlance as a metrosexual, a man who is defined by his appearance. For such a loquacious fee, he will need to do more than keep up appearances at the Bernabeu. It is said that you can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps. He will be hoisted into the best of order when he joins the Brazilian Kaka, who seems like a pauper at a measly 68m from AC Milan. Kaka grabbed headlines when he arrived days earlier, but at Real, it appears to be anything we can do, we can do better.
Whether Ronaldo is drastically better than the Brazilian is a point of some dubiety. If he was once the jewel in the United side, it seems he is no longer a priceless piece of frosting. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, has been through a similar scenario, perhaps when David Beckham was perceived to have outgrown Old Trafford. Ferguson, a working class man from Scotland, some may say a canny curmudgeon, seems oblivious to preening players who court credibility away from the game. Ronaldo's behaviour has hardly been in keeping with Ferguson's liking, but perhaps £80m is too good an offer to reject for a player who is not keen on staying.
Ronaldo threw a strop after being swiped off early against Manchester City last month, but was grinning when his mum embraced him during United's championship celebrations. On the finer points of his move to Real, mum's the word. Florentino Perez, the re-elected Real Madrid president, is also revisiting old ground. Kaka and Ronaldo represent the start of Galacticos Two: the second coming. He has promised starry names, and in Kaka and Ronaldo he has delivered, but where is the case for the defence? How much money will Real have left over to fritter away on a defender or two? His first Galacticos era fell down because there was no balance to the team. Two strikers do not a summer make. This is a team who scored 81 goals and haemorrhaged 52 in finishing nine points behind Barca.
Real's fans are interested in a different bottom line - toppling Barca from their perch as the Spanish and European champions. Usain Bolt beat Ronaldo to the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award, announced in Monaco on Wednesday. Both men like life in the fast lane. At least Real are not being duped into bringing in a figure who is off colour. firstname.lastname@example.org