In June of last year, AS.com held a survey about the possibility of Real Madrid selling Cristiano Ronaldo. The results were split fairly evenly, with 50-04 percent of voters against the idea and 49.96 in favour. Ronaldo ended the season as Pichichi, with 48 league goals. On Monday, Ronaldo said that he would see out his current contract, which expires in June 2018. “After that, we’ll see,” he added. His clarification, the tag line and the original question were not out of context. After the eulogies for Luka Modric it is time to talk about Ronaldo’s role. He passed more or less unseen in Granada and is being questioned more than ever before, which is not difficult, as he has never really been genuinely questioned before.
Hours after the Granada match, Popular Party politician Manuel Cobo, now an analyst on sports radio program El Larguero, gave an opinion on Ronaldo: “At Real Madrid what was important before were titles and now it seems that what is important are goals.” During the same debate there was talk of Ronaldo’s change of position, the loss of his ability to open up defences and, of course, his age: 31.
So far this season, Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in the league, the same number as Karim Benzema and fewer only than Luis Suárez (20). In Europe he has scored 11, six more than Suárez and four more than Robert Lewandowski. Still, the doubts remain.
There are those that justify the potential signing of Lewandowski by arguing that he will replace Ronaldo, who it is assumed will leave. Those that do so have not revealed their sources but they display absolute conviction and not a hint of nostalgia.
This disregard should not surprise us either. In terms of marriage people refer to the seven-year itch as an insurmountable obstacle that cannot be overcome without the aid of a sports car or a lover. Ronaldo, as you have probably guessed, in his seventh season at Real Madrid.
Problem or solution?
So what is to be done? We’ll see. Selling Ronaldo would be a staggering financial operation that could reach 150 million euros, or even more. The problem in this instance is that Real Madrid is not a profit-sharing organization nor does it pretend to be, unless money is reinvested in new players. If this is the case, the money reaped would be swiftly spent: partly on signing Lewandowski, who could cost 100 million, and the rest to secure another available superstar, such as Eden Hazard, who at this moment is more willing than available as his contract runs until 2020.
In the absence of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale would become more influential in the team as he would be freed of complexes and of the left flank. It is probably he would not score as man goals as the Portuguese but he would have Lewandowski and Benzema to help carry the load; the Frenchman has been revealed this season as an elite striker. Add to that front line James Rodríguez, Isco and the aforementioned Hazard. I agree, it doesn’t look bad.
But let’s continue with the thought. We tend to assume that Ronaldo will wind up at PSG, who play in an inferior league, but if we imagine he could just as easily sign for Manchester United and Mourinho, or Manchester City and Guardiola. In that case, particularly in that case, Ronaldo will never actually leave Madrid: he will be an ever-present opponent and point of comparison. It is obvious that his goal scoring ability will decline as the years advance but his penchant for demolition will remain acute until the sun sets on that horizon.
I don’t think Florentino Pérez is willing to take that risk. I don’t think it would be a stimulus for Bale or Lewandowski. I don’t think Ronaldo will leave this summer, or that he’ll be allowed to leave. The relationship will be patched up because a separation wouldn’t be suitable for either party. There will be crises and there will be solutions. A few words, or a sports car, will suffice.