Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Turin and Juventus insist he won’t leave in the summer, but Oli Coates assesses whether a move away from the Old Lady would be good for both player and club.
For Ronaldo, it all comes with the territory. One of the finest players in history, his future is always the subject of intense debate and scrutiny. It’s been that way since he started his career at Sporting Lisbon, was snapped up by Manchester United and signed for Real Madrid in a world-record deal.
Despite turning 36 in February, Ronaldo remains one of the best players on the planet, and his services are as coveted as ever. Especially considering his contract with Juventus has only 12 months to run, meaning he will be available on a free transfer and allowed to talk to other clubs from January 1, 2022.
The question for Juventus is whether they renew Ronaldo’s contract, sell him this summer, or lose him for nothing at the end of the season. The first option would come at a huge expense to the Bianconeri, as Ronaldo earns €31m per year. Whatever the figure, there’s little chance of him following old rival Lionel Messi’s lead at Barcelona and agreeing to halve his wages to stay in Turin.
The last scenario would also be a real hit to Juve’s finances, as they would lose a sizeable asset without recouping a single cent of the €100m-plus they spent on securing his services in 2018. Yes, there’d be a significant reduction in their wage bill for the 2022-23 season, but that surely wouldn’t justify writing off such a valuable asset both on and off the pitch.
Juve are in need of reinforcements this summer if they’re going to regain the title this season, having finished 13 points behind champions Inter last term. Max Allegri has returned to the Allianz Stadium for a second spell in charge of the Old Lady, and he will want some money to spend if he’s going to win the Scudetto as he did in each of the five seasons during his first reign.
As such, there’s an argument for Juventus cashing in on Ronaldo this summer. This may be the Bianconeri’s only chance to recoup some of their massive outlay on the Portuguese superstar, with any transfer fee potentially allowing Allegri to strengthen in the areas he feels require the most attention.
The problem with this, of course, is that by taking Ronaldo out of the equation, Allegri loses a player who’s scored 101 goals in just 133 appearances over the last three seasons. With 81 in 97 in Serie A, Ronaldo averages a goal every 0.84 games, while his ratio was even higher than that last term.
It would take a huge amount of money to find a goalscorer capable of getting close to Ronaldo’s stats. Meanwhile, the player himself has reportedly committed to at least another season in Turin, with his agent, Jorge Mendes, keen to negotiate a one-year contract extension.
Even so, reports linking Ronaldo with a move away from Juventus refuse to die down. The likes of Paris Saint-Germain and former club Man United have both been linked, while a new name has been thrown into the mix in recent days.
According to Calciomercato.it, Premier League champions Manchester City have entered the race to sign Ronaldo. That would be an unbelievable coup considering his links to City’s local rivals, but is it a potential transfer with any legs?
When linked with a move back to Manchester in 2013, Ronaldo said: “To play for City, not United? I’m not going to do that. Why? Because my heart’s in Manchester United, that’s why. I can say it would be very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very difficult to play at Manchester City. Very difficult because of Manchester United.”
So, very difficult. But impossible is nothing, after all. That is the slogan of Adidas, arch-rival to Ronaldo’s long-time sponsors Nike, and after eight years, the passage of time could pave the way to the Etihad Stadium. Ronaldo’s decision would be ruled as much by the head as by the heart.
City would effectively be replacing a 33-year-old Sergio Aguero with a man three years his elder. But Ronaldo wants to win the Champions League again, and City need a goalscorer. No coincidence they are in talks with Tottenham to sign Harry Kane. But what if they won’t be able to secure his services? There have even been reports that Pep Guardiola is willing to send Gabriel Jesus to Juventus as part of any deal. Surely, the Old Lady has set their sights on the Brazilian as a potential replacement for the Portuguese ace.
Whether there’s any truth to the latest rumours or not, there’s been no definitive proof as yet that Ronaldo wants to stay at Juve. Perhaps he’s minded to see how the rest of the summer pans out. After all, the likes of City and PSG would appear to offer him a better chance of a sixth Champions League crown than if he were to remain in Turin.
Therefore, it could be argued that a move away could suit Ronaldo more than it does Juventus. The Bianconeri need their talisman to produce the goals, while the presence of one of the planet’s biggest superstars is also attractive for their commercial appeal. Without Ronaldo, Juve are likely to suffer both on and off the pitch.
The challenge for Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli is to get Ronaldo to sign a new contract. That has to make the most sense for the Old Lady, with the Portuguese showing few signs of slowing down just yet. Whether Ronaldo can be convinced should some of Europe’s leading clubs come calling is another matter entirely.