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Ronaldo ready for challenges of Spanish league

CRISTIANO Ronaldo is expecting a lot from his move to Spain: a competitive Spanish league, a huge fan base and better refereeing.

Real Madrid's record transfer signing smiled politely and joked with reporters throughout a mix of questions Monday that ranged from how he deals with his celebrity to his chances of finding a Spanish girlfriend.

The 80 million pound (US$131 million) signing from Manchester United said his ultimate goal was to make a mark in La Liga after already having achieved so much in England.

"I expect a different league of course," Ronaldo said. "I played six years in the Premier League and its very difficult. It's more fast and players are stronger. It's very competitive here as well. It will be interesting. I look forward to enjoying La Liga."

Above all, Ronaldo believes he's ready for the challenge despite the inevitable media spotlight that will follow him. At least 80,000 fans turned out at the Santiago Bernabeu for his presentation. Ronaldo was forced to flee the field after a few dozen fans leaped the barriers in search of autographs.

"I think I'm ready for this challenge," the Portugal winger said. "I eat good. I sleep good. I drink good. I think I'm ready for this league."

Ronaldo conceded that one aspect of the game will certainly benefit him: Spanish referees.

He often complained about receiving scant protection in the Premier League and his ex-manager Alex Ferguson also suggested that players often got away with kicking him.

"In England, there are very nice referees, but in La Liga you have unbelievable referees," Ronaldo said with a smile.

Although he preferred not to say it, Ronaldo did mention Barcelona when it came to the one match he was most looking forward to.

Ronaldo said one of the last things Ferguson said to him before he left Manchester was that he hopes Man United and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League final, which will be played at the Santiago Bernabeu next May.

"That would be fantastic. (Ferguson) joked about it with me before I left, about seeing me here in May," Ronaldo said. "I hope."

A Spanish girlfriend was not a priority after media reports suggested Ronaldo had spent part of his vacation in the company of Paris Hilton.

"It's not one of the club's objectives that Cristiano gets a girlfriend," the club's director general Jorge Valdano answered while trying to keep the focus on football. "The objective is that he plays the way he knows how."


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