Year after year, summer after summer, we have heard rumors of Cristiano Ronaldo being on his way out of Real Madrid. Most years it is nothing but contract leverage, and the media being bored during the soccer starved summer months. This year however, even while it still was a rumor, something felt different.
Ronaldo on leaving…
“I think that the moment has arrived to start a new chapter in my life and therefore I have asked the club to accept letting me leave. I am sorry it is like this and I ask all of you, especially our followers, to please understand me.”
The story broke that an offer from Italian giants, Juventus had been accepted by Real Madrid, and most importantly Ronaldo. 105 Million Euros, for a 33 year old who should be starting to decline in his career. At his age, the legs should be starting to go, the goals should be drying up, the minutes on the field should be declining. CR7 has other plans. The speedy winger has transformed himself into an out and out goal scorer in the past few years, a player who doesn’t run up and down the field for 90 minutes in a game. He started to hang back and pick his spots to run. Even if it may have been subconsciously, or even forced, this transformation may have been the most important thing Ronaldo has done in his long professional career.
Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid in 2009 from Manchester United. Since that move to Spain, he has averaged about a goal a game for 9 years, 292 goals in 311 appearances to be exact. He leaves the Spanish giants with a crowded trophy case, bringing in 4 Uefa Champions League titles, 2 La Liga titles, 2 Copa Del Rey titles, 3 European Super Cups, 2 Club World Cups, and 2 Spanish Super Cup titles in his time. Did I mention his personal collection of 4 Ballon d’ors?
What would motivate him to leave?
Although Ronaldo is perhaps the best player to ever put on the all white kit of Real Madrid, it was not always hugs and kisses between the Madridistas and the Portuguese forward. He often was quick to criticize fans for booing fellow teammates during poor performances. He, himself was even booed here and there during the 2017/18 season when Madrid had a poor showing in La Liga. For a player who needs to be loved by all, a lack of gratitude from the fans, and at times from the president of the club (who was not the president that bought him), it seems he was finally pushed over the edge.
Now that the deal is official we have to ask the question, why Juventus? Why leave sunny Madrid? Why leave the city where you and your family have been settled for the better part of a decade? One important factor is that Ronaldo was a Juventus fan as a kid, watching them play in European Cup finals. He was very close to signing with them when leaving his hometown club, Sporting Lisbon as a teenager. Another reason may be the fans. When playing in a Uefa Champions League knockout round game at Juventus this past season, Ronaldo received a standing ovation from the Juventus faithful after scoring an incredible bicycle kick goal. He humbly acknowledged them with the soccer version of tipping your cap, a wave around the stadium with his other hand on his heart.
As far as Madrid goes, how do you replace a Ronaldo sized hole in your squad? Club president Florentino Perez has never been shy of buying the next superstar, often paying more than may be necessary to get his man. Although Ronaldo is leaving an aging squad, they do have a young core to build from. Players like Isco, Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio and Raphael Varane will not being going anywhere. Combined with the veteran talent in the squad, Madrid still boasts one of the most talented teams in the world, even without CR7. The big question is how will they make up for the lack of Ronaldo’s goals? Knowing Florentino Perez, he will surely look to bring in the next Galactico. Brazilian and PSG superstar, Neymar seems high on the list, as well as French wonderkid, Kylian Mbappe, to be the man (or boy) to fill that spot.
As for Juventus, the new signing has catapulted them up to 7-1 odds to win next year’s Champions League title. Ronaldo will definitely have been brought in to win that title, one that has been elusive for Juventus in recent years. With Ronaldo’s wage being as large as it is (exact figures not announced at this time), surely some key pieces will have to leave. Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain could be the player to be sacrificed, leaving a hole to fill up top, a hole that Ronaldo will look to fill with ease.
As ESPN’s Gab Marcotti put it, “The king is dead (or, more accurately, has taken his court elsewhere). Long live the (new) king!”
— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) July 10, 2018