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What if: Cristiano Ronaldo moves to Chinese Super League

Trevor Murray
FEATURED WRITER
Feature
2.26K   //    27 May 2017, 16:11 IST
MALAGA, SPAIN - MAY 21:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after his side are crowned champions following the La Liga match between Malaga and Real Madrid at La Rosaleda Stadium on May 21, 2017 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Ronaldo’s eyes are set on the Champions League for now

All Real Madrid fans are fully focused on the upcoming crucial UEFA Champions League final against Juventus which could see Los Blancos cap a phenomenal 2016/17 campaign under Zinedine Zidane, as well as becoming the first side to successfully defend their UCL crown.

Already, supporters of the white half of Madrid are gearing up for a fairy-tale end to a remarkable season which could see them couple the Spanish La Liga crown with becoming kings of Europe, but Juve are not going to be pushovers.

With Cristiano Ronaldo leading Madrid's line, there will always be the possibility of goals - but will the all-time UCL goalscorer be with Madrid until the end of his career?

Let's imagine what it would be like if he left and joined the cash-rich ranks of some of the big names playing in one of the hottest and ever-improving leagues in world football.

What if...Ronaldo transferred to the Chinese Super League.

1,000 career goals would be achievable

Will Cristiano Ronaldo get his hands on ol' big ears again?
The Chinese top flight is getting stronger every year

As Ronaldo approaches 600 career goals heading into the grand European showpiece final, many will be expecting the man with a flair for the flashy finish to save his best 'til last with a stylish brace against Gianluigi Buffon.

Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but it is a remarkable goal tally, something made all the more phenomenal considering how he has only recently bypassed Jimmy Greaves's European league tally as well as becoming the first Madrid player to reach the 400-goal mark for the club.

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If Ronaldo was to make the move to the CSL (with rumours still in circulation that he might), the legendary Portuguese star would have more than enough chances to extend that haul to a four-figure sum.

The Chinese top flight is getting stronger every year, but it would nevertheless be a step down for Ronaldo - not to say it wouldn't pose a fresh challenge - but it would certainly provide him the opportunity to achieve something truly astonishing by breaking through the 1,000-goal mark in his career, and to do it legitimately.

For a man who is constantly looking to better himself and pursuing outlandish statistics to back up his claim as one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the beautiful game, this would surely be an objective too tantalising to pass up.

With the likes of Oscar and Hulk already paving the way, Ronaldo could spend the next season weighing up his options, discussing moves and selecting the perfect home for himself in the Far East.

Picking up another Ballon d'Or award, a few more pieces of silverware and leaving as the highest-scoring UCL marksman the competition has ever seen would perhaps be the best exit strategy - after that, he could concentrate on making yet more history abroad, conquering his fourth country on the club scene.

Extend his playing time by a couple of years at least

FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 28: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the International friendly match between Portugal and Sweden at Barreiros stadium  on March 28, 2017 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Right now, he remains a god among footballers

The Chinese Super League is not a weak division. It's attracting quality players from all over the world every time the transfer window opens up.

The money there is breeding a culture of glitz, glamour and competition that could one day rival that pre-existing in Europe right now, and Ronaldo might just want to be at the epicentre of pushing through that changing of momentum.

Make no mistake, Ronaldo will want to play at the highest level for as long as possible, but there will come a time (though there are no signs that will happen soon) he will need to relinquish his place at the very top if he wants to remain relevant.

Right now, he remains a god among footballers, a specially moulded talent who knows that he remains at the peak of his powers - and that is because he has been intelligent enough to adapt himself at every twist and turn of his career.

Where he once, in the early days at Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United, got by on swashbuckling stepovers and tricky dribbles, he evolved into a midfielder of intelligence and unerring confidence who valued results over daring before ushering in his current phase of being an uber-clinical marksman in the 18-yard box.

Moving to China could see him beckon another Ronaldo-friendly era where he gets to play with regularity but with even greater protection. Where he can still test himself, in a foreign environment, but also be safe in the knowledge that he can outdo his opponents with the flick of his boot.

Sampling a football atmosphere gentle on his body and that makes less demanding requests from him, both physically and technically, could help him extend his career into his very late 30s - what self-respecting football fan wouldn't want to see that? It would keep him fresh, limber and ready - especially for new challenges on the international stage.

He would have at least another two stabs at finally winning the World Cup as well as an opportunity to defend the European Championship title.

A chance to prove himself all over again

Ronaldo last played in China back in the summer of 2015.
It won't be a decision he will take lightly

One of the key defences that admirers of Ronaldo almost immediately jump to when they favour him over Lionel Messi is that Ronaldo has tested himself in more than one club, more than one country and has come out the other side on each occasion, stronger and more well-rounded.

As mentioned, his willingness and unwavering commitment to constantly improving himself, working twice as hard as anyone else on the training pitch, has almost certainly been his greatest strength ever since he initially burst onto the scene as a wily youngster with a point to prove.

By transferring to a Guangzhou Evergrande or Shanghai SIPG, Ronaldo could prove all over again just how versatile he is, thereby getting another one over his oldest and greatest of rivals, Messi.

It won't be a decision he will take lightly. If he does make it, it won't be something he will look to do simply for the payoff or the holiday abroad.

No, it will be because he will want to accomplish something special over there. No doubt about it, if Ronaldo moves there he will become a league champion, he will break goal records, he will catapult himself to the top of award ceremonies and man of the match enclosures within no time and he will have an impact like no other player has ever done, but it will also see him begin what would surely be his final chapter as a professional footballer.

Considering how exceptional he remains, how relevant he is and how he shows no sign of wavering, we can only hope he'll stay in Europe and dine at the top table as long as he sees fit.

Whenever he might leave, will certainly be a sad day but undoubtedly it will be China's gain and a time to celebrate.

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