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The Portugal star, 33, is to join reigning Serie A champion Juventus from the Champions League holder for a reported $117 million transfer fee.

"Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude to a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football," said the Spanish club in a statement on Tuesday.

In an open letter to Real's fans, Ronaldo said that he had "reflected a lot" and knew that "the time has come for a new cycle."

Last season, the Portuguese star scored a stunning bicycle kick against Juventus in Turin, which was widely viewed as one of world's greatest ever Champions League goals.

Ronaldo had a barnstorming start to the World Cup scoring a hat-trick against Spain in a 3-3 draw, before Portugal was knocked out by Uruguay in the last 16 stage.

Ronaldo scores for Real Madrid against Juventus in last season's Champions League.

'Unique reference'

Ronaldo joined Real from Manchester United in 2009 for a then-world record fee of £80 million ($106M) and was given a €1 billion buy-out clause.

He went on to become Real's all-time leading goalscorer, winning four Champions League titles -- including a historic three consecutive crowns -- two La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey trophies.

"For Real Madrid, Ronaldo will always be one of his great symbols and a unique reference for the next generations," added the Real statement.

"Real Madrid will always be your home."

Sergio Ramos, captain of the Spanish club, saluted Ronaldo's achievements and wished his former teammate luck going forward.

"Cristiano, your goals, your numbers and everything we've won together speak for themselves," tweeted Ramos. "You've earned yourself a prominent place in the history of Real Madrid. The Madristas will always remember you. It's been a pleasure playing by your side. Big hug and good luck!"

Ronaldo scores his third goal for Portugal in the 3-3 draw against Spain at the World Cup

Reports of Ronaldo's unhappiness in the Spanish capital have become an almost annual occurrence in recent years, although each episode had always ended with a new contract.

But the five-time Ballon d'Or winner sparked more rumors when asked about his future in the immediate aftermath of Real Madrid Champions League win over Liverpool.

"I'll speak in the next few days," he said on May 26. "Now it's time to enjoy the moment. The future of any player isn't important."

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Real has recently put out two statements denying the club's interest in signing either Neymar of Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain as speculation intensified over Ronaldo's future.

Ronaldo has been the scourge of Juventus in recent years, scoring two goals in a man-of-the-match performance in the 2017 Champions League final and knocking the Turin club out of last year's competition.

"These years in Real Madrid, and in this city of Madrid, have been possibly the happiest of my life," said Ronaldo in his letter to the club's fans.

"I only have feelings of enormous gratitude for this club, for this fanbase and for this city. I can only thank all of them for the love and affection I have received.

"However, I believe that the time has come to open a new stage in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept transferring me. I feel that way and I ask everyone, and especially our followers, to please understand me."

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