There was little indication of what was to come. When Cristiano Ronaldo left Madrid for the Confederations Cup in mid-June, he did so on the back of two trophies: La Liga and the Champions League.
The Portuguese forward appeared happy with life as he celebrated those titles at the Santiago Bernabéu the night after he had scored twice in Cardiff against Juventus to help Real win La Duodécima.
Yet no sooner had he left, the bombshell was dropped. “Ronaldo wants to leave Spain,” read a front page headline in Portuguese paper A Bola.
That story broke on June 16 and more than two weeks on, it has not been denied by anyone, while Ronaldo has not spoken publicly about the claims. Clearly, the report came straight from the horse’s mouth.
But why? Cristiano is under investigation for tax evasion and feels he is the victim of a witch-hunt in Spain, even though his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi has already endured a similar ordeal.
The Portuguese perhaps wants greater protection from his club, but really this is a matter for him and his advisors. It is not the fault of Madrid if he has not paid his taxes. And if he has, then there is nothing to worry about.
So will Ronaldo really leave Madrid? Former Real midfielder Christian Karembeu told me in an interview that he thought a solution would be found, while his ex-France team-mate Bixente Lizarazu described the whole saga as “a big bluff”.
That is probably accurate and even though Madrid are unhappy that Ronaldo has stayed silent all this time, the club are keen to hang on to their star player. And for Cristiano, there is no better place for him to be than at the Spanish side.
If he leaves, he is likely to have less chance of winning the major prizes and also the Ballon d’Or, while the tax case will not disappear either. So watch all this blow over later in the summer as the 32-year-old pledges his future to Madrid.