Whether the next inscription will be Real Madrid-related is a matter of increasing conjecture. Centre-back Ramos, 35, is out of contract in the summer and there is little sign of agreement over a new deal being reached.
The future of one of European football’s most successful modern captain-club relationships might be coming to an end. He has been on the brink before, but never in his 16 years at the Bernabeu has he been so close to leaving.
Short presentational grey line
Ramos has been one of the great modern defenders for a decade and a half, a symbol of Real Madrid’s relentless pursuit of success, and throughout that time he has divided opinion – even in his own club’s boardroom.
He became the youngest player in 64 years to make his debut with the national side and his roll of honour includes four Champions Leagues, five La Ligas, one World Cup and two European Championships.Contract talks by the drink dispenser – but not enough respect
With 161 days remaining on his contract, Ramos is free to talk to other clubs about a free transfer in the summer.
He has let it be known he wants to stay at the Bernabeu for the rest of his career, while the club has stated they don’t want him to leave.
So surely that should be that? Job done, where do I sign?
Except of course, when talking about a club like Real Madrid, things are never quite that simple. We’ve been here before and this is the latest “will he stay or will he go?” tortuous negotiation – or, depending on who you believe, non-negotiation – and represents yet another game of poker between Ramos and club president Florentino Perez.
But the difference this time is those conversations have previously never come this close to the wire.
If you listen to Ramos’ people, there has been no contract offer from the club. He has let it be known he has no intention of listening to offers from elsewhere and he is not on the market. For now. He wants to stay for the remainder of his career and is seeking a two-year deal on what he is currently earning, which is 12m euros (£10.7m) a year net.
The problem is that, as things stand, other than informal conversations held between him and Perez (a chat in a hotel bar in Elche, in the passageway en route to the dressing rooms or while standing at the side of the drink dispenser machine at the club’s Valdebebas training complex) there is nothing tangible on the table for him to accept or decline.
So keen is he to demonstrate that this is not a case of him being money grabbing that he has even suggested to the club that, given the coronavirus pandemic, he is prepared to have his money deferred for two years and then paid to him, interest free, at the end of any new deal.
This, his people claim, is precisely the deal worked out between Barcelona and Gerard Pique. Except, they add, that the Barcelona centre-back insisted on a 3% interest payment being added to their wages when they are finally paid.
Sources close to the player also claim Ramos has been told any new contract is conditional on the club getting his help in persuading the squad to agree to a further 10% cut in wages because of coronavirus, the second reduction since the start of the pandemic.
He is also being asked to factor that percentage cut into his new deal, while Ramos would like the same money he is earning now, and then a negotiation of the Covid-related cut. He constantly gets told the club is struggling with money.
What disturbs Ramos is that since the pandemic, defender Dani Carvajal has seen his money go from 4.5m to 8m euros and midfielder Toni Kroos from 7m to 8.5m euros in new contracts.
Effectively what the captain is asking, is that any new contract should be a measure of the gravitas and respect merited by a player of his history and standing.