4 Ballon d’Ors. 4 Champions League titles. 2 La Liga titles. Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer. 3 FIFA Club World Cups.
Surely Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved everything possible in his nine years at the Bernabeu. At 33 the time might be ripe to move on to another challenge. Soon after winning the Champions League final, Ronaldo himself came out and said: “In the next few days I will give an answer to the fans that have always been on my side.” “It was very nice to be at Real Madrid, in the coming days I will talk about it more.”
Recent media reports in Spain have also suggested that club president Florentino Perez is willing to let go of his superstar go for a reasonable sum of money. In Ronaldo’s case, ‘reasonable’ could still be a world record breaking transfer.
So let’s look at 5 possible destinations for the Portuguese superstar.
This could be an interesting one. Chelsea have no Champions League football to offer but Ronaldo has claimed this trophy for the last 3 years so perhaps that will not be a deterring factor. The Blues need a revamp of their forward line with Alvaro Morata not firing as expected and the management not having much faith in Olivier Giroud or Michy Batshuayi.
Los Blancos have been pursuing Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard for quite some time now. So perhaps a swap deal could be in the offering. Stamford Bridge might not be Ronaldo’s preferred destination in England with his desire to return to Manchester United. But with Romelu Lukaku already leading the line, where would they fit Ronaldo?
Chlesea need a talisman and could be happy to build their team around Ronaldo.
Carlos Tevez. Oscar. Hulk. Axel Witsel. Ramires. Didier Drogba. Nicolas Anelka. John Obi Mikel. In recent years some of the biggest stars from European football teams have moved to the Chinese Super League. As a result the CSL has steadily been growing in popularity. A vast domestic target audience and club owners with deep pockets means that the league will continue its rise towards becoming one of the world’s premier football domestic leagues.
Why would CR7 move to China? Obviously money is one factor. But he would get paid well enough wherever he decided to go. More importantly, I feel, Asia is on the cusp of becoming a footballing powerhouse. Soon enough it will be able to stand toe to toe with the traditional footballing giants of Europe and Latin America. CSL might just be the league that will be able to compete with the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the likes.
Can Cristiano Ronaldo spark this Chinese revolution? Is he willing to be the guy who turned Asian club football around? Can he be the face of the CSL and attract even bigger football stars and non-Asian audiences to this league?
Time will only tell. But its a cause worth considering. It will be a nice legacy to sign off with for one of world football’s greatest players ever.
#3 Sporting Lisbon
Everyone likes to come back home. Sporting Lisbon is where it all began for Cristiano Ronaldo at the tender age of 16. By then he had already played for the club’s under 16, under 17, under 18 and B team – and all in the same season. In late 2002 he made his first Primeira Liga appearance for the club and scored two goals on debut.
He was so impressive with the club’s first team in his debut season that he was wanted by European heavyweights like Barcelona, Arsenal, and Liverpool. But when Alex Ferguson saw him in action in August 2013 as Sporting defeated Manchester United 3-1, he was determined to sign him. Immediately he had sealed a transfer to Old Trafford and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ronaldo’s love for his boyhood club is well known. In 2013 he was honoured by Sporting when they selected him to become their 100,000th member.
It would be a fairytale ending to a great career. Sporting definitely can’t afford Ronaldo’s wages so would he be willing to take a pay cut to return home? Maybe because after all home is where the heart is.
At 33, Cristiano Ronaldo can give Real Madrid one or at the max two more good seasons. Beyond that, they need to replace their superstar. PSG’s Neymar would be a like for like replacement both in terms of footballing ability and global popularity. At 26 he has age on his size and Real Madrid can look to build their team around him for the next few years.
Conspiracy theories abound about Neymar’s desire to move to Real by using PSG as a transit. Barcelona would have never sold him to Real. True or not – Neymar needs a bigger challenge than what Paris provides. For Ronaldo, it would suit to move to a big money project where he can take center stage.
The stumbling block would be PSG’s Qatari owners. Having only signed Neymar a year ago in a world record-breaking transfer, it is unlikely that they will let go of him so soon. Ronaldo plus a good amount of money might be required to tempt them. But that would hurt CR7’s ego no?
#1 Manchester United
For six seasons, Cristiano Ronaldo vowed Manchester United fans with his sublime skill. From being a raw talent, Alex Ferguson polished him into the brightest diamond of his generation. He helped United win three Premier League titles and one Champions League. Along the way, he also win himself his maiden Balon d’Or. He became a United legend, scoring more than 91 goals in his last 3 seasons with the club.
Undoubtedly, he became the player that he is today at Manchester United. But the split was acrimonious, to say the least. After two years of ongoing saga around his transfer, he finally forced his way to a world record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid. Ferguson wasn’t happy with the way he left and United haven’t been the same club since then. In fact the last few years have been United’s worst in almost a quarter of a century with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea stealing the top spot.
Ronaldo would feel that he has some unfinished business at the club. If he can lead this team back to the Premier League and Champions League titles he would have made his point of being irreplaceable.
Jose Mourinho is a manager with whom he was worked successfully at the Bernabeu. The Special One has made no secrets about his admiration of CR7. And the two would love to work together again. But can he fit Lukaku and Ronaldo into the same team? A successful move for Ronaldo would also help Mourinho finally banish Sir Alex’s ghost from the managerial position at Old Trafford. A win-win situation for both.