England and Croatia both just had the world stop for over 90 minutes as they duked it out for a place in the World Cup 2018 Finals. Before that, Belgium and France, the third and seventh-ranked teams in the world, squared off in an equally intense semi-final to quite possibly the most exciting World Cup to date. Yet, headlining the world tabloids still was not that Samuel Umtiti header or the World Cup at all, but rather, again on Cristiano Ronaldo. The star Portuguese forward who just won his third consecutive Champions League final with Real Madrid, has personally opted to be traded to an unlikely spot… the Italian champions Juventus.
What may come as a surprise to many, is, in fact, a divorce that has been years in the making. Ronaldo’s decision to leave the club he dreamt of as a child quite simply comes down to his treatment by the man who brought that dream to life: Real Madrid President Florentino Perez. To start, Perez has a reputation for ruthlessly instating his Galacticos policy of bringing world-class talent in every summer transfer period. Amongst the elite footballers, we’ve seen the likes of Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo Lima to Luka Modrić, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo; all of which brought the spotlight and silverware back to the Santiago Bernabéu. However, in doing so, Perez notably has gained a reputation of avoiding defensive-minded talent, budding into in-game managerial decisions and focusing the club’s interests more on its marketing rather than the longevity of its playing success.
In comes Ronaldo, a player who in his nine-year tenure at the club has won fifteen trophies — which include two Copa Del Rey’s, two La Liga titles along with four Champions League titles and four Ballon D’or’s to cement his place at the top of the totem pole. Despite these unbelievable achievements, Ronaldo has felt unappreciated by Los Blancos, apparent in his contract quarrels with Perez and the lack of support he received from the club following his five-match suspension back in the 2017-2018 season.
Perhaps Perez is a genius in allowing Ronaldo, who turns 34 in February, to walk and in doing so receive a healthy return ($100 million and free up $55 million in wages). However, logic leads us to believe otherwise, for the question mark still surround Madrid who many believe isn’t managed properly, and is entirely attack-minded and won much of its Champions League and La Liga success on the heels of Ronaldo’s 450 goals and 138 assists.
So why Juve? Why not Paris-Saint Germain or rather his other home, Old Trafford? I believe the Portuguese international made that decision back in April, upon getting up from one of the greatest bicycle kicks to date against the very club he’s decided to join. Instead of boos and jeers from a group of supporters who’ve seen Real Madrid end their Champions League dreams twice in the past three season, Ronaldo was shocked to witness a round of applause by the Bianconeri faithful. It’s in that moment that he felt the appreciation he’s longed for in the Spanish capital and is what has led him to add black stripes to the iconic white kit he has donned over the years.
Time will be the ultimate decider on whether Perez is indeed a genius by instead reeling in a Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, or Neymar. Or rather, perhaps it’s Ronaldo that takes a page out of Tom Brady’s book and fights back father time by proving he is the G.O.A.T., and in doing so bring Juventus its first Champions League title since 1996.