Telling Life

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After 16 seasons, 671 games, 101 goals, five league titles and four European Cups, Sergio Ramos is leaving Real Madrid. The club’s captain will say his final goodbye on Thursday, 13 days before his contract formally runs out.

Unable to reach an agreement with the club president, Florentino Pérez, to continue, Ramos becomes a free agent on 1 July. Although he is 35, he has no intention of retiring and the centre-back’s final destination is still not finalised, with reports linking him to a catalogue of clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Sevilla.

Although the news came as no real surprise after months in which negotiations over a new deal had come to a halt and, with Ramos’s relationship with Pérez a difficult one all too often played out in the press, Madrid’s announcement on Wednesday evening still had a huge impact.

In May 2019, Ramos had said that he “would play for Madrid for free” but he had wanted a new two-year deal on the same €15m salary, minus a 10% reduction applied across the squad because of the coronavirus crisis. Real would offer only a single year, and recently signed David Alaba on a free transfer from Bayern Munich. One last round of talks between Ramos and Pérez this week failed to break the deadlock, if indeed there was ever rally any intention of doing so.

Only Paco Gento has more winners’ medals with the club than Ramos, who joined Madrid from Sevilla for €27m in 2005, aged 19. He was the first Spanish signing made by Pérez, going on to win 22 trophies with the club, as well as the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain. A hugely charismatic figure, his most significant moment was the goal he scored in the 2014 Champions League final against Atlético Madrid with the clock on 92.48. That header rescued his side, took the game to extra time and allowed Real to secure their long‑awaited 10th European Cup.

Ramos’s career at the Bernabéu has come to an unexpectedly flat end, injury allowing him to make just four appearances in 2021 and leading to him being left out of the Spain squad for Euro 2020, at a time when he was closing in on an all-time record for international caps. He has played 180 times for Spain and under 14 managerial spells at Real.

His final game for the club turned out to be the Champions League semi-final defeat at Stamford Bridge when he was not fully fit and subsequently sat out the rest of the season.