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No way back? How Real Madrid captain Ramos called Florentino's bluff - and lost

COMMENT: It's over now. Surely? Sergio Ramos called Florentino Perez's bluff - and Real Madrid's president was happy to oblige. If the right offer arrives, the captain will be sold...

Florentino has played Ramos like a fiddle. But this has been a long time coming. Fed-up with his captain dictating publicly where the board should go. Fed-up with his public behaviour in training and on matchdays. And fed-up with the special treatment he has negotiated with coaching staff. Florentino has had enough.

Ramos' minders, via trusted friends in the media, may've taken first shot. But the timing could not have been worse as claims of Ramos "being tired of the president" through a third party were confronted - within 48 hours - by the man himself.

Florentino, speaking on El Transistor, was immediately on the front foot. And his approach never shifted whenever the topic of Ramos was raised.

"Ramos was the first Spaniard I signed," he began, "I have a great love and I love him like a son," the president insisted, preparing us all for who really is the villain in this piece. It isn't he nor the board who wanted this split, but the player.

Florentino continued, "They (Ramos and brother Rene, his agent) asked to see me and they told me that there was a very good offer from China but that they (the club) could not pay for the new rules there.

"I told him it could not be, but that we would talk to the Chinese club to give him satisfaction. It is impossible for Real Madrid to let go of their captain, of whom we are proud, and who also goes for free. It would create a very dangerous precedent."

So they're prepared to sell. They will accede to Ramos' demand that he be allowed to leave. But for the good of the club, he must understand that a fee has to be involved. After all, for the contribution of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real still negotiated a club record €112m with Juventus for his sale. Surely Ramos would not expect better treatment than Ronaldo...?

But wait, there was more. Much more.

Florentino then went onto admit at being "disappointed" and "surprised" that his meeting with Ramos and his brother had "made it's way" to the public, "other players have had offers and it has never made it's way...".

So along with a defector, Ramos is also a leaker. But the president wasn't finished. Knowing his decision to spurn the captain's demands of a payrise was also making headlines, Florentino stepped forward again.

"How are we going to cheat by saying that Gareth (Bale) wins €12m and that he earns €17m? The highest contract is that of the captain."

So though he's the best paid inside the locker room - and by some distance - Ramos was still demanding more? And after the season they've just had? That Florentino let this all hang out has clearly drawn a line in the sand. The fans. His teammates. They now know Ramos' salary. They know where he sits on the wage scale. And they know he was still demanding more just last week. There surely isn't any way back from this...

As far back as August, the president was complaining to confidants about the antics of his captain. Julen Lopetegui, the first of three coaching appointments Florentino made during the season, granting Ramos extra time off last summer - without consulting the board. Then when Lopetegui was sacked, on the back of the 5-1 humiliation at Barcelona, Florentino was infuriated by Ramos' decision to speak publicly - against - the hiring of Antonio Conte. The former Chelsea manager eventually pulling out of talks over concerns about a hostile dressing room.

And it all boiled over in March after the Champions League collapse - at home - to Ajax. Florentino leveled the blame squarely at Ramos. His manufactured suspension from the first-leg. His decision, as he sat out the game, to do some documentary filming during that disastrous second-leg. It was all thrown at Ramos by his president in the home locker room after the 4-1 reverse. Ramos' reply was to question the president's signings - in front of his teammates - before declaring he'd leave as "soon as my contract is paid off".

A couple of months on and the tension had appeared to ease. But appearances was all it was. Florentino had always planned to find a way to manoeuvre Ramos out of the club. It was just a question of how. And what was the least damage to PR it could bring.

But thanks to Ramos' demand for that meeting last week. It's all fallen into place. Florentino happily calling his captain's bluff - and doing so for the whole of Spain - and beyond - to hear.


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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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