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Legendary Real Madrid skipper Ramos to quit club

Madrid: Legendary captain Sergio Ramos is to leave Real Madrid after a glittering, trophy-laden career spanning 671 games and 16 seasons, the club announced Wednesday.

Real said there would be an “act of tribute and farewell” to the four-time Champions League winner on Thursday in the presence of club president Florentino Perez.

The announcement follows an injury-wracked 2020/21 campaign where the 35-year-old Ramos appeared in only 21 games in all competitions, his fewest in a 16-year career at Madrid. He has played just five times since the start of the year.

The veteran defender and national team captain was omitted from Spanish coach Luis Enrique’s Euro 2020 squad because of his lack of playing time.

Ramos joined Real Madrid from Sevilla in 2005, the sole Spaniard brought in during Perez’s first stint as president, the first Galacticos era that saw a major superstar signed every season.

A towering presence at the back, Ramos was also a prolific goalscorer, netting 101 times for Real including the 93rd-minute equaliser in the 2014 Champions League final against bitter rivals Atletico Madrid.

They went on to dominate their city rivals 4-1 after extra time, first of Real’s stunning run of four Champions League triumphs in five years.

He is one of the club’s most decorated players, having won five La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and two Copas del Rey.

He won the World Cup with Spain in 2010, and the European Championship in both 2008 and 2012, but has often been a polarising figure outside Madrid.

Red card record

Ramos holds the record for the most red cards in La Liga history at 20, and was sent off 26 times in all competitions for Madrid.

A fierce competitor, he has come under fire for his harsh tackling including the infamous takedown of Mohamed Salah during the 2018 Champions League final that left the Liverpool star with a dislocated shoulder.

This season Ramos missed games after catching Covid-19 and also because of a series of injuries to his right thigh, left calf and left hamstring.

He was in Madrid’s squad for the final La Liga game against Villarreal but did not play.

According to Spanish media, Real and Ramos had not been able to reach an agreement on an extension of his contract, which will expire on June 30.

The club wanted to offer him a one-year deal with a 10 percent cut in salary in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, while Ramos wanted a two-season extension, according to reports.

The absence of record Spain appearance holder Ramos means there is not a single Madrid player in Enrique’s squad at Euro 2020.

Ramos has played 180 times for his country, scoring 23 times a tally that puts him eighth on Spain’s all-time goalscorers’ list.

He represented Spain at four World Cups and three European Championships and was a key member of the squads that lifted the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Euros.

Ramos will become a free agent after June 30 with a host of top European clubs, including Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, reported to be interested in signing the veteran.

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