Piece by piece, Florentino Perez is making sure Real Madrid remains a top contender.
And he is doing it without resorting to more “galacticos,” instead sticking to the current group who helped the team thrive in recent years by extending the contract of Madrid’s top players past 2020.
At the core of this group is Cristiano Ronaldo, who on Monday became the latest player to have his link with the club extended. The three-time world player of the year signed a new deal that ties him to Madrid until June 2021, when he will be 36 years old.
“You don’t get tired of winning and that is why Real Madrid wants you to continue here forever,” the club president said to Ronaldo. “You’re already a Real Madrid legend.”
Before Ronaldo, Perez had renewed the contract of Gareth Bale, securing the Wales forward until 2022.
“I extended my contract because I feel very happy here,” Bale said. “I think we can keep winning titles.”
Bale was the player in which Perez spent big on a transfer, paying Tottenham 101 million euros in 2013, a record amount that stood until Manchester United shelled out 105 million euros for Paul Pogba in August.
The president didn’t choose to go on another spending spree this year even though he knew of a looming one-year signing ban handed down by FIFA after the club was found guilty of breaking rules protecting underage players.
Instead, he preferred to keep the group of players that in May led the team to its second Champions League title in three seasons.
Croatia midfielder Luka Modric had his contracted extended last month until 2020, and fellow defensive midfielder Toni Kroos got a new deal until 2022. Young forward Lucas Vazquez signed a new contract keeping him in Madrid until 2021.
Ronaldo, Bale, Kroos and Modric have been nominated for FIFA’s best player of the year award.
There are doubts about whether Perez will try to stick with France forward Karim Benzema after his current contract ends in 2019, but the club has already secured youngster Alvaro Morata, who returned to Madrid after playing well with Juventus in Italy. Morata is staying until 2021.
Perez now will have to turn his focus to the defense, as Pepe’s current contract ends next season. In a few years, the president will likely have to negotiate with captain Sergio Ramos, left back Marcelo and right back Dani Carvajal, whose contracts end in 2020.
Madrid has a two-point lead over Barcelona in the Spanish league, a competition it hasn’t won since 2012. It will play the city derby against fourth-place Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon Stadium on Nov. 19, after the international break.