Back in September 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo declared he was "sad". Real Madrid's talisman had just scored his first goals of the season in a 3-0 win against Granada and his club were reigning La Liga champions under Jose Mourinho. He didn't celebrate and when he was asked why his response was that he did not celebrate goals when he was sad.
Questions, naturally, arose. Was it a ploy to earn more money? Did he feel undervalued by the club or the fans? Did he not enjoy life under Mourinho? Was it that he was still playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi, who was winning Ballon d'Or after Ballon d'Or and still managed to outscore him during Madrid's league title success?
Whatever the reason, it remained in-house. Ronaldo got his new bumper contract a year later, however, pouring cold water over rumours of a return to Manchester United, while big-spending Paris St. Germain were also linked. In February he revealed that matters had changed and he was feeling happier in his work and in April president Florentino Perez confirmed the club would offer the Portugal star a new contract. It was signed in September 2013, two years before his previous deal was due to expire.
Fast-forward two years and for Cristiano Ronaldo read Sergio Ramos. The Madrid defender may not have publically declared his emotions but all is not well between the Spain international and the club where he has made a name for himself as one of the best defenders of his era. A new contract is at the root of the problems but rumours linking him with a move away from the club seem little more than a bargaining chip for a better deal - from Ramos's side at least.
United have been used again but nobody expected Ramos's name to be linked with Barcelona. Jordi Majo, in the running for the Barcelona presidency, revealed that the former Sevilla man was offered to him as part of his election campaign but Ramos's agent and brother Rene said the star "would never play for Barcelona". That part may be true but it seems that the 29-year-old is as close as he ever has been to the Bernabeu exit door and Old Trafford seems his most likely destination if he decided to leave.
There has, for sure, been a breakdown of sorts between the club and the player. Some suggest it is the relationship between Perez and Rene that is unfixable but other things point towards the player demanding to be higher up the payroll to match his standing in the team. Currently he sits behind Ronaldo, by a distance, Gareth Bale, Iker Casillas and Karim Benzema.
"I spoke to my friend Sergio Ramos at the end of the session," Arrigo Sacchi told Gazetta dello Sport after visiting the club's training base earlier this season. "He asked me what I thought about his contract problems. He told me: 'I want to renew my contract, but Florentino is offering me less money. What do you think?"
Ramos responded by saying he was "not driven by money". "My new contract depends on my happiness and the president and I don't think there'll be any problems," he added. I intend to stay at Real. They've given me almost everything I have."
Relatively, Ramos is right to demand a deal befitting of his stature at the club. He was the man who brought Perez to his feet in Lisbon last summer with a thumping header that brought Madrid level in added time of the Champions League final. He was the man who scored twice in Munich to send them on their way.
For a decade he has been one of, if not the, leaders of the team on and off the pitch with a recent club documentary from that famous night at the Estadio da Luz showing him to be the man leading the encouragement before the match as the rest of the team listened in.
Signed for €27 million from his hometown club Sevilla at just 19, Ramos was the most expensive defender in the history of Spanish football at the time but that amount now looks to be a snip. He leads from the back but he is also handy in attack with more goals than any other defender in Europe's top-five leagues over the last decade.
Ramos may not have been bought as one of Perez's out-an-out ‘Galacticos' but he is an honorary member alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and David Beckham. That is why a departure for pastures new now, with the player in his prime and having led the club to their tenth European crown only a year ago, seems unlikely.
Much is placed on the ‘two-year deadline' Perez likes to impose on getting his stars to agree new deals but it is not true across the board. Luka Modric and Raphael Varane may have signed new deals with three years still to run on their contracts last summer but Karim Benzema only secured a contract extension until 2020 in August with his previous deal due to expire this summer. Ronaldo penned his latest deal two years before his contract was to expire but he did so only in September. The summer is still young.
The silence from the club is deafening but is perhaps better than saying anything at all on past experience. After last season's Champions League triumph Perez took to Spanish radio to say that the club was happy with Angel di Maria and that they hope he can stay "for many more years". When asked about deals for Fabio Coentrao and Pepe the president's response was "of course, they're important just like Ronaldo". Coentrao looks set to leave and Pepe has just a year left to run on his deal. Incidentally, when asked about Ramos continuing at Madrid Perez said: "It is like Ramos was born at Real Madrid, of course he will".
That Pepe can leave on a free transfer next summer as things stand makes Ramos's renewal important. Madrid may see Varane as the future of the club but the Frenchman still shines with experience at his side and there is nobody better for that than Ramos. While Nicolas Otamendi outshone Ramos last season that decade of experience in the famous kit is priceless.
Madrid need a happy and in-form Ramos next season if they are to win the silverware they crave. He may not be at the level of Ronaldo in terms of standing within the team, or indeed in terms of marketing, something which is always crucial when Perez pens signings and new contracts, but he is above Di Maria and Ozil who left under controversial circumstances before him.
It may have caused a stir to see the aforementioned pair depart in recent seasons but it would be nothing on the loss of one of the team's current icons. There may be a way to go before the defender and president share a bond like they did on that famous night in Lisbon but rumours and speculation should be as close as United, or anyone, gets to signing Ramos this summer.