Equal Time: Juventus is the easy way out for Ronaldo
There had been rumours for a few weeks. Even then, the football world wasn't ready for the news that broke late on Tuesday afternoon. Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Real Madrid and move to Italian giants, Juventus. In terms of breaking news, it doesn't get much bigger. Ronaldo has been either the best or second best player in the world over the last decade, depending on who you ask. Real Madrid have just won a third consecutive Champions League. So why did these two forces decide to part ways?
At 33, Ronaldo is getting on in years. Over the last two seasons, he has adjusted his game to become more of a penalty box predator. In previous years, he preferred to arrive late into the box from the left wing.
There have been murmurs of discontent for a while now. Many Madristas booed him earlier this season when he was struggling to find the net in La Liga. He responded by going goal crazy in the campaign's second half. As well, Zinedine Zidane often rested the Portuguese star over the last two seasons. In 2017/18, he made only 27 league appearances. In the first 14 games, he only scored four goals. Twenty-two came in the next 13, but the title race was long over. Real could only manage third behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Has Ronaldo conceded that he can no longer cope with the demands of playing and performing at his best for a full La Liga season?
Serie A fans are a proud bunch, but there's no doubt Lega Calcio's standard has dropped over the last decade. It is miles away from its 90s heyday. FC Ronaldo might claim this as a move to prove his credentials in another league. Why? It's a clear move backwards that feels more like a statement that feels like he's throwing up his hands at the difficulties in store in Europe's top league.
At this stage, Ronaldo resembles an ageing lion. He's been the leader of his pride for a long time but he's getting old. It's time to cede his territory to the younger, more energetic lions and go off alone to find pastures new.
It's no secret Ronaldo has a very strong PR team. This move is already being promoted as him going off to conquer another territory, but has he really conquered Spain? There's little doubt that he has made a huge impact in terms of the number of goals he has scored, but two league titles in nine years aren't as impressive as the PR machine would have you believe. Ronaldo has long been obsessed with being the best player of his generation. He can cruise to as many titles as he likes in Serie A but the fact Real Madrid were willing to accept any fee for him already hurts his place in history. Fans of his biggest rival, Lionel Messi, will argue the Argentine is priceless.
Once the news settles, attention will turn to the deal's big winners and losers. In truth, it's hard to call.
- Real Madrid can claim victory by getting so much money for a 33-year-old but when the 33-year-old is the face of your club, big shoes must be filled.
- Ronaldo will claim he is going to take on a new challenge in a new country. The reality is he has just left a club that has won three Champions Leagues in a row for an inferior team in an inferior league.
- Juventus have just signed a five-time Ballon d'Or winner. On the other hand, they have invested €200-300 million, including wages, in a player whose best days are behind him.
With the deal so fresh, no one can say how it will play out. For Ronaldo, it's all about ego and legacy, but the only way he can boost either with Juventus is by winning the Champions League crown. This deal might improve her chances, but the Old Lady just doesn't have the players around CR7 to guide them to Europe's biggest prize.