Ronaldo has been in outstanding form to start the new season but his antics have become increasingly odd, first refusing to celebrate either of his goals against Grenada last weekend, then speaking of his sadness and dissatisfaction with the employer who pays him $15 million per season.
Countless reasons for his gloom have been speculated upon, with one of the most popular theories being that Ronaldo has been angered by Madrid stalling on offering him a blockbuster new contract, a suggestion that was rubbished by the player and his agent, Jorge Mendes.
Other theories included a report that the 27-year-old was suffering from depression, or that he was dissatisfied at the way his friend and teammate Kaka was being relegated to a secondary role within the club.
However, according to a source close to Ronaldo, the real factor behind his unhappiness lies with Madrid's activity during the summer transfer window, which closed at the end of last month.
While the club did bring in Luka Modric and Michael Essien just before the transfer deadline, the source claimed Ronaldo had strongly urged the Spanish side's ownership to acquire "a specific player" the source did not name.
"There was one guy who Cristiano wanted more than anyone, someone who would give him some help and make him more productive and protected," said the source. "They did not do the deal. When you look at how Barcelona signs players, it is to support and complement Messi. Can you say the same about Madrid with a straight face? It is a problem."
Just as it is hard to fault Madrid's transfer policy this summer – Croatian midfielder Modric is a superb creative talent and Essien, if healthy, can add steel and poise – it is difficult to think of an available player that would fit the kind of requirements Ronaldo was apparently looking for.
Madrid had some interest in prolific striker Robin Van Persie early in the summer but did not put up too much of a fight when the Dutchman left Arsenal to sign with Manchester United. In any case, a player like Van Persie, with his high scoring rate, would surely only have taken some of the spotlight away from Ronaldo.
The rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi has intensified over the past two seasons and Ronaldo is often irked by comparisons between the men that cast him in a less than favorable light.
"I am sad," Ronaldo said after his team's 3-0 victory over Grenada on Sunday. "When I don't celebrate goals it is because I'm not happy. It is a professional thing. Real Madrid know why I am not happy."
Another factor cited for Ronaldo's unhappiness in the Spanish media was that Barcelona's Andres Iniesta won the European player of the year award ahead of him, although Ronaldo again dismissed those claims. Iniesta, the small but clever midfielder with a sharp soccer mind and quick feet, deserved the accolade for his efforts not only for Barcelona but also the victorious Spain Euro 2012 squad.
The puzzling thing about Ronaldo's much-publicized problems is that he has rarely looked better on the field. He scored a brilliant goal to beat Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup and seems to have recovered from the disappointment of Portugal's quarterfinal exit in Euro 2012.
All this leads to the burning suspicion that perhaps he just wants a bit more attention.
"Cristiano doesn't need to be loved," added the source. "He just needs to be supported."
In reality, he most likely wants both.
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