Adios Mi Amigos
Cristiano Ronaldo’s nine years at Real Madrid came to an end yesterday and with it the end of an era, as the news broke that he’d completed a £99.2m move to Serie A side Juventus.
Two La Liga titles, two Copa Del Reys, four Champions Leagues, four Ballon d’Ors and 451 goals in 438 appearances certainly isn’t a bad return for the then world record fee of £80m Madrid paid back in 2009, and they’ve benefited financially too, through increased TV revenue, sponsorships and endorsements from Ronaldo’s image, not to mention the shirt sales.
Ronaldo has carved out a legendary career for himself at Madrid, one that will live long in the memory and longer still after we’re all six feet under. He’ll be placed amongst former stars and legends such as Raul, Ronaldo Luis, Di Stefano and former manager Zidane.
Real Madrid’s official statement was placed on their website as news agencies around the world broke the news.
“Real Madrid would today like to place on record its thanks to a player who has shown himself to be the best in the world and made his mark on one of the greatest periods in our club’s history and on the world game.”
They spoke fondly of not just Ronaldo’s achievements as part of a team but as an individual.
“Apart from the titles he has lifted, the honours secured and the on-field achievements during these nine years, Cristiano Ronaldo has been a role model in terms of commitment, hard work, responsibility, talent and self-improvement.”
Ronaldo released a statement also following the confirmation of a deal that makes him Series A most expensive transfer, behind Gonzalo Higuain.
“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.”
Cristiano took the opportunity to reminisce about the players he’s played with and the success they’ve had together.
“I have had fabulous teammates on the field and in the dressing room, I have felt the warmth of an incredible crowd and together we have won 3 Champions Leagues in a row and 4 in 5 years. With them also, on an individual level, I have the satisfaction of having won 4 Ballon d’Ors and 3 Golden Boots. All during my time in this immense and extraordinary club.”
He finished by thanking the fans, everyone at the club and repeated simply two words he proclaimed on his arrival to Santiago Bernabeu; Hala Madrid.
Juventus at a time seemed like the least likely of destinations for Ronaldo, after being heavily linked with Bayern Munich and a return to former club Manchester United. There was, of course, the obligatory interest from America and China, but again a move here made less sense for a player that is already globally recognised and has no real need to “open new commercial opportunities” as so many other players have previously done.
So, let’s get into the deal, £99.2m transfer fee and £30m a year plus £10m in bonuses until 2022 on paper looks like a huge outlay for a 33-year-old Ronaldo, yet you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s willing to claim his best years are behind him. All told the deal has the potential to cost the Old Lady £260m (foregoing the £12m fee paid to agent Jorge Mendes), but let’s look at what Juventus stand to gain from this.
With a club social media following surpassing ten million in recent weeks, it’s only going to take 50% of that audience to purchase one Ronaldo shirt, throughout his four years stay, to near double the return on his investment. That’s without everything that goes with owning a player of Cristiano’s magnitude.
I suspect Juventus’s deal with Jeep will be renegotiated as will other key sponsors for the club, Ronaldo also featured on the global release of EA’s FIFA Franchise in 2017 and looks set to do so again this year as well, making him the first Juventus player to grace the cover since Del Pierro in 2004, it may only be a video game to some but the commercial exposure for the club is immeasurable.
That’s just the financial side of it all though, Ronaldo the player is still very much at the top of his game, his hat-trick vs Spain in the World Cup still fresh in the memory as the 2018 tournament comes to a close, still a very capable clutch player, Cristiano still produces the moments and scores the goals required to push his team to the very top.
Rarely has any player at 33 looked as good now, as they did when they were 28. He may be a little less fleet-footed, but for the minor loss in pace he makes up for in-game intelligence and I’m sure we’ll enjoy seeing him and Dybala cause all kinds of trouble for the defences of Serie A.
Why The Old Lady
What was it about Juventus that appealed so much? Why not return to United under Mourinho or take on the challenges of the Bundesliga? Why did The MLS or CSL not appeal like it does to so many others?
It’s simple really Ronaldo has an insatiable desire to be recognised as the one true greatest of all time, he’s gone on record several times saying so, and as much as the Ronaldo v Messi debate will be forever lasting, ultimately if Ronaldo can secure Ballon d’Or number six or even number seven, paired with another Champions League win, he will be recognised as being that much better, although I’m sure that will cause its own debate.
Juventus gives Ronaldo a viable opportunity to do just that, a move to Bayern or a return to United wouldn’t have given Ronaldo that, much less moving out of Europe all together to either MLS or CSL. He’s moving into a really strong squad, laced with talent from back to front. Chiellini and Benatia forming the centre-back partnership, with the likes of Cuadrado, Marchisio, World Cup finalist Matuidi and new recruit Emre Can in midfield, Ronaldo joins a front line of Mandzukic, Dybala, Higuain and Douglas Costa.
This squad more than any other that Juventus have built over the years has real potential to win The Champions League, their first since 1996. If Ronaldo plays a key role in delivering the number one prize in club football, he surely secures his legacy as the greatest of all time, above all others, that includes the little man from Rosario.
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