Cristiano Ronaldo's public show of discontent at Real Madrid has left supporters guessing if he was upset with team-mates – for a lack of moral support in his battle to be recognised as the best player on the planet – or with the club's director general Jose Angel Sanchez in his battle to regain his status as the world's best-paid.
His comments after Sunday's win over Granada came just four days ahead of the closing of the transfer window in Russia, home to one of the only clubs currently paying its players more than Real Madrid. FC Anzhi are currently giving striker Samuel Eto'o €20m (£16m) a year.
The timing of Ronaldo's comments increased speculation that the Spanish champions' failure to keep him at the top of the wages league – he also trails Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – was at the heart of the "sadness" he said he felt despite reaching the milestone of 150 goals in 150 games at the weekend.
Ronaldo earns €13m a year and the planned negotiations to improve his contract in the summer did not materialise. The player called a meeting with Sanchez and with club president Florentino Perez on Saturday just as the club were unveiling their new signing from Chelsea, Michael Essien.
Perez and Sanchez are understood to have called Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, who confirmed there was no offer on the table from any other clubs for the Portuguese international whose buy-out clause stands at €1,000m.
The counter-theory is that Ronaldo feels increasingly isolated in the dressing room and was unhappy at comments made by his Brazilian team-mate Marcelo after the European Championship, that Iker Casillas should win the Ballon d'Or at the end of the year and not the Real Madrid striker. There have been claims that Ronaldo no longer speaks to Marcelo, though a dressing-room problem would more likely have been addressed by manager Jose Mourinho than by president Perez.
Ronaldo could be seen asking for his manager's permission as he disappeared down the tunnel after Sunday's 3-0 win and there seems to be no problem between the player and his coach. Mourinho criticised all his players for a below-par performance in spite of the win just minutes before Ronaldo stopped, first for television and then radio journalists, in the bowels of the Bernabeu to make his feelings felt.
"I have four goals in five games – that is not the problem," he said of his own form. He was applauded off by supporters after the win which left Real five points behind Barcelona going into the international break.
Pay league: where Ronaldo stands
S Eto'o (Anzhi)£330,000
W Rooney (Man Utd) £250,000
Z Ibrahimovic (PSG) £240,000
C Ronaldo (Real Madrid)£215,000
Y Touré (Man City) £200,000
R van Persie (Man Utd) £200,000
S Aguero (Man City)£200,000
L Messi (Barcelona)£180,000
F Torres (Chelsea) £175,000
List based on estimated wages per week.
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