Hello again, football fans! Look, last week we took a break from the whole ‘transfer rumor of the week’ thing. We didn’t know why at the time. But now it’s become clear: we needed that extra week off to prepare for what was to come. We needed that extra week off to prepare for Cristiano Ronaldo possibly leaving Real Madrid. So we’re going to do things a little differently this time. No sections; no questions. Just Ronaldo and trying to make sense of all this.
The phrase “transfer saga” gets tossed around a lot these days, but we could be in for a doozy here.
What was his breaking point? Taxes. You read that right. Or more particularly, Spanish tax laws. You can read up on a lot of the current case here, because that’s not what this column is about. This is about Cristiano Ronaldo—a player who has been with Real Madrid since 2009, a player who just recently captured the La Liga and Champions League crowns again, a player who has won the Ballon d’Or four times—possibly leaving Spain at 32 years old. Keep that last number in mind.
While injuries slowed (if you can call it that) Ronaldo’s most recent campaign, the Portuguese winger still netted 42 goals in 46 matches across all competitions. We’re not really calling this a “down season,” are we? Please, with a straight face tell me we are not. Because clubs that can afford to do so would pay a king’s ransom for this type of production. And guess what? Even at 32, Ronaldo’s transfer is going to demand just that. Even if the fee comes in lower than you might expect, the wages sure as heck won’t.
But he’s not getting any younger, and we know all about Father Time. Seriously, do a search for “Father Time” on this website and one of two things are most likely to appear:
- Father Time comes for us all, or
- Father Time waits for nobody.
Both are true, and both can be applied to Ronaldo at this stage in his career. But don’t think for one second that he’s anywhere close to being done playing at the highest level. Don’t like using La Liga goal totals? Fine; he netted 12 goals and added six assists in 13 UCL matches this past campaign. Is that good enough for you?
If he goes to the English Premier League—which isn’t remotely a guarantee, by the way—there’s no reasonable argument to make that would suggest he’d struggle. Look, 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović tallied 17 goals and five assists in his first-ever PL season before landing wrong and blowing out his knee against Anderlecht in the Europa League. In fact, Zlatan was so successful in the PL this past season that he ended up finishing as the second-best buy of the transfer season.
So maybe Ronaldo will “go home” to Manchester United which, gee, I’m sure that’s not at all insulting to his first senior club (Sporting Clube de Portugal). Yes, I understand the likelihood of him returning to the Portuguese league is almost zero. Heck, maybe he’ll take his talents to Manchester City. They sure haven’t been shy when it comes to spending money; why stop now? I’m sorry, United fans—you’re not entitled to everything.
We should be able to count out both the Chinese Super League and MLS no matter how much money he’s promised right now. Why? Just look a little further up. The man just won the Champions League; why would he embark on a relatively non-competitive journey at this point? What about FC Arsenal Tula of the Russian Premier League? They certainly can’t give him all that money, but they’ve already offered “delicious gingerbread.” I don’t know about you, but that’s probably the best offer on the table at this point.
Speaking of relatively non-competitive, Ronaldo could always take his talents to Paris Saint-Germain. At least they’ll have Champions League. Perhaps he can finally get them over that particular hump. Remember when Basingstoke Town—currently in the seventh tier of English football—made a move for Ronaldinho? Maybe they can do something similar with Ronaldo. Instead of paying him they can just give him sole ownership of the club or something, I don’t know.
Or in the end, maybe Ronaldo just stays at Real Madrid. It’s difficult to gauge how serious these talks with other clubs are or will become. It’s difficult to see him leaving Spain at all. But if he does, there won’t be a shortage of clubs interested. Moreover, those clubs will be able to pay him whatever he wants. Because if a player of Ronaldo’s caliber is available, even at 32 years old, you pay him. Even if it’s just for a couple of seasons, you take that plunge.
Or who knows? Maybe Ronaldo will just retire to his secret island that was built for him and super-secret best friend Lionel Messi off the millions upon millions of dollars they’ve accumulated from evading taxes together.
Previous Rumors of the Week: