Is it time for Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Real Madrid?
There’s one destination in particular which continues to be linked with Cristiano Ronaldo and his potential move away from the Spanish capital, and it’s a place he’s more than familiar with – although it’s unclear whether or not that familiarity would necessarily be a good thing for the Champions League winner. It’s Manchester United, of course.
No clear indication has yet to arise as to whether or not the Red Devils are actually interested in acquiring his services, despite the usually awkward dance the tabloids have engaged in regarding the whole saga. What is evident, however, is that the Portugal international is set to turn 31 years of age next season, a milestone that hints at a disintegration of his footballing superpowers.
In short, he could well be coming to the long-overdue descent of his career, and he’s unlikely to stay with Real Madrid for much longer should he fail to produce some top-notch silverware for his individual efforts.
Indeed, the forthcoming campaign could well be his final attempt to satisfy the ever expectant Los Blancos faithful, as well as Florentino Perez, because as great as he’s been for them on the field of play, he simply won’t be able to continue forever, and the time will come when even he will be surplus to requirements; it might just arrive a lot sooner than most had anticipated.
So, let’s take a look at some of the many facets behind why Ronaldo might well be right to make for the La Liga exit door in the next few months.
Feud with Benitez could boil over
It’s no secret that Rafael Benitez likes to chop and change. He’s done it for years and has a reputation as the head honcho who likes to mix things up at the best of times. Sitting in the hot-seat at one of the biggest and most loved clubs in the world, the ex-Napoli boss has really landed on his feet in many ways, but it’s also fair to say that he’s found himself in one of the trickiest and most difficult roles a football manager could ever hope to master.
In charge of a side who hold lofty ambitions game after game and season after season brings with it a challenge he will relish, but that doesn’t mean it will all go swimmingly. Get rid of Ronaldo, arguably their best player, too soon and mayhem would likely ensue, but give the player at least one season under his guidance and control and he could very well justify recouping £70-80 million for him if “Ronnie” doesn’t deliver some silverware in the same manner he’s become accustomed to.
To put it bluntly, if it comes down to it, Benitez might very well have his own personal safety net in place to protect him if he doesn’t achieve the start he wants with Los Merengues. Ronaldo can be his scapegoat, it’s as simple as that.
After all, if you’re to believe reports from Spanish publication AS that the pair are already locking horns, with the ex-Manchester United winger said to be unhappy with how their training regimes have gone under the new coach, then he could very well be on the threshold of the exit.
If things get much worse, it will either be Ronaldo or Benitez who goes, and although many would like to believe that the Madridistas would rather hold on to their star player than the Spanish manager, it’s likely that’s because sentiment shrouds their view.
Simply put, the attacker who plundered 51 club goals last season is under more pressure to deliver some trophy cabinet ornaments, and under more scrutiny to perform than Benitez is. It’s his head that’s on the block right now.
No one is bigger than the team, except for Perez
Much has been made down through the years about the special relationship Ronaldo has often held with Madrid’s all-powerful club president Florentino Perez.
Both have rarely held back when it’s come to compliments or public displays of manly affection, and it seems quite true that they have great faith in, and respect for, each other. That said, relationships change and when one considers that their specific bond is largely based on good results, a high win ratio and generating lots of revenue for the club, it’s fair to suggest that the majority of the particles that make their connection a positive one are often outside their control.
Hence, in the open water of a new era at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo could become about as vulnerable as the defences he’s unlocked so many times with his exquisite skill.
Ronaldo cannot win titles on his own although he’s often tried to do exactly that numerous times, and with a new manager in town he’s going to have to learn to adapt to a variety of new roles, something that could harshly affect his performance and cause him to struggle.
If that’s not suggestive enough, just think how poorly club legend Iker Casillas was treated as he was ejected from the team’s future plans; an icon who progressed all the way from their youth academy, who spent 16 seasons with them, was discarded in the blink of an eye, stripped of any pomp or ceremony.
Anyone who thinks the same treatment dished out by the 10-time winners of the European Cup is too harsh for Ronaldo needs a wake-up call. He might have been the shining star on the pitch under Carlo Ancelotti, but no-one is bigger than this team – except for the main man who runs the show away from the spotlight.
Ageing Ronaldo will always have the ability to turn a match
Taking home the Pichichi trophy last season was the crowning glory in a season filled with wonder and excitement for Ronaldo, but that was only on a personal level as they failed to match Barcelona as a unit on the domestic, or indeed European, front.
While it once more underlined just how otherworldly Ronaldo is, it also accentuated his negative traits. Derided as a glory hunter by some, his desire to be the best almost seemed to counteract itself in an odd way. The criticism he faced for being overly selfish was perhaps a bit forced, especially considering that he nabbed a more than respectable 16 league assists throughout the 2014/15 season. However, the feelings of negativity and disapproval that were floating around were not disingenuous at all.
Because it hasn’t just been the obvious detractors like Dani Alves who’ve slated the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner as selfish.
Indeed, even the BBC’s Mark Chapman singled him out for derision following his celebratory antics in the immediate aftermath of Javier Hernandez’s goal in the Madrid Derby back in April. In truth, that points to exactly the type of mindset Ronaldo has; he’s a wonderful player with bags of ability, and he deserves to be singled out by those who love the beautiful game, but it’s not up to Ronaldo to single himself out in the manner that he does.
If he was to stick to concentrating on football instead of getting caught up in the theatre and drama of what it all means to everyone else, he’d be better off and probably wouldn’t get castigated as much as he does.
As long as rumours and mystery continue to pursue his name when he wears the dazzling white of Madrid, people will always speculate what he might achieve elsewhere, away from the restless weight of expectation that comes with the politicised world of the Bernabeu.
Teams will always covet him, fans will wish he played for them and pundits will hope he joins their league. He might well cost a small fortune, but he will always possess the ability to turn a match on its head with the flick of his heel or the lash of his laces against leather.
Wherever he finds himself in the next few months, however, there’s at least one thing we can all hang our hat on – he’ll entertain us.