Spanish football club Real Madrid has paid Manchester United a record AUD $162 million to buy star midfielder, Cristiano Ronaldo and that is just the sign-up fee. The 24-year-old will also receive a multi-million dollar salary from his new team. The details of Ronaldo's contract have not been made public yet but it is expected he will earn around $400,000 a week - that is around twice as much as any AFL club is allowed to pay their entire team. The deal is all the more extraordinary when you consider that Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by the global economic crisis. The Portuguese star is a marketing company's dream - he's tall, dark, handsome and was last year named the best footballer on the planet. Ronaldo's rise through the ranks has certainly been out of this world. At just 18, he signed with Manchester United for 12 million pounds. The sale to Real Madrid for 80 million pounds makes it a stunning return on the club's investment - 700 per cent in just six years. Tom Cannon is Liverpool University's professor of Football Finance - one of only a handful of academics around the world with such a title. He has been following the ambitions of Real Madrid's boss Florentino Perez, who returned to the club's presidency this month after being away for three years. This was not even his first purchase. A couple of weeks ago he bought Brazilian midfielder Kaka from Milan for $117 million. "Well basically, a few years ago when Perez was president of Real Madrid before, he publicly said he was going to create a team of superstars which were called the Galacticos," Mr Cannon said. "David Beckham was among them so there was already a history of movement from Manchester to Real Madrid." It is an extraordinary price to pay at any time but especially now during a global economic downturn with Spain indeed one of the worst hit and unemployment at 17 per cent or thereabouts.