Sergio Ramos has claimed he is only leaving Real Madrid because the club withdrew their offer of a new contract, as the defender bid an emotional farewell on Thursday after 16 years.
Ramos said in a press conference he had pushed for a two-year contract extension and when he decided to accept one extra year, the club told his agent and brother “about a week ago” the offer had expired.
The 35-year-old, who will become a free agent on July 1, gave no indication as to where he will play next, although he ruled out joining Barcelona. He also said he was “not contemplating” a return to Sevilla.
Ramos joined Real Madrid from Sevilla for 27 million euros in 2005 and went on to become one of the club’s greatest ever players, playing 671 games and winning 22 titles, including five in La Liga and four in the Champions League.
Despite making clear his disappointment over the failed negotiations with Real Madrid, Ramos refused to criticise president Florentino Perez directly, describing their relationship as like a “father and son”.
Perez and Ramos delivered short speeches and shared a cordial embrace during a goodbye ceremony at Valdebebas, with Ramos’ family among those in a small audience.
Ramos said bidding farewell was one of the “most difficult moments” of his life.
Afterwards, he answered questions from the media on his own in a press conference room. “I have never wanted to leave Real Madrid,” he said.
“I go back to the season during lockdown when we won the title. The club offered to extend my contract but because of Covid-19, it was delayed.
“In recent months, the club made me an offer of one year, with a lower salary, and I want to emphasise that money was never a problem. I wanted two years for continuity, for me and my family. There was never a financial issue.
“When I finally decided to accept the offer of one year and a lower salary, I was told the offer had an expiration date that I was not aware of.”
Ramos insisted he did not know why the offer expired and said he was “really surprised”.
“I would have liked to stay here many more years,” he said. “Madrid is my home and my family.”
Earlier, Madrid’s captain opened the door to a return in the future. “This is a ‘see you later’ because sooner or later, I will come back,” Ramos said.
He had just started his speech when he broke down in tears as he begun paying tribute to his family.
Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are among the clubs credited with an interest in signing Ramos.
“We never thought about any other team but there have been some calls from interested clubs,” he said. “Now we will look for a good option.”
On the unlikely prospect he could join Barcelona, Ramos said: “It would be impossible to see Ramos in a Barca shirt. A resounding no as big as the new Bernabeu.”
He also discarded the option of returning to Sevilla.
“I do not contemplate that option, just as Sevilla does not contemplate it,” he said. “It is a different moment now, for them and for me.”
Injuries restricted Ramos to only 21 appearances for Real Madrid last season before Luis Enrique left him out of the Spain squad for Euro 2020.
But Ramos said he is fit again now and “excited to show his highest level for years to come”.
Perez said it was “not an easy day”, saluting Ramos as “one of the great legends of Real Madrid”.
“You have grown as a player and been our iconic captain for years,” Perez added.