Cristiano Ronaldo moves from Real Madrid to Juventus — is this the start of a transfer rush? – FIFA World Cup – Russia 2018


By Simon Smale

Updated

July 11, 2018 14:29:44

His legions of fans would have expected Cristiano Ronaldo to be making headlines in the final week of the World Cup — and the Portuguese star has managed to deliver despite leaving the competition nearly a fortnight ago.

Italian giants Juventus announced today that they had splashed out 112 million euros ($177 million) to pry the five-time European Cup winner to Turin in a deal that potentially has big implications for the established European footballing hierarchy.

Italian daily sports bible La Gazzetta Della Sport went as far as to implore its readers to remember the date as one that will “remain in the history of Italian football”.

The move is a new Serie A record, beating Juventus’ own previous record from two years ago when they enticed Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain from Scudetto rivals Napoli.

But this is quite different.

The biggest player for the biggest prize

Ronaldo may be 33 years old but is arguably in as good a form now as he ever has been — particularly in big games.

Just last month his magnificent hat-trick salvaged a draw against Spain in their dramatic World Cup opener.

The Real Madrid star scored a spectacular 26 goals in 27 La Liga matches for Real Madrid in an albeit disappointing domestic season, and managed a further 15 in Los Blancos’ successful Champions League campaign.

Three of those goals came against Juventus, the second being *that* bicycle kick and the third a heartbreaking 98th-minute penalty that secured Madrid’s passage to the semi-finals.

Ronaldo has been the top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons and it is these goals that are of most interest to Juventus.

Remarkably, 10 of Ronaldo’s record 120 Champions League strikes have come against Juve — a bitter pill for a team that craves European Cup success above anything else, a prize that has eluded them since 1996 despite their domestic dominance.

Juventus have won the Scudetto seven years in a row, taking their overall tally to 34 — almost double that of their nearest domestic rival — but have won the European Cup, the biggest prize in European football, just twice.

Winning the Champions League is turning into an obsession for the Old Lady of Turin. By adding a player who has so often been the thorn in its side on the European stage, Juventus is sending a signal that it is ready to better the club’s two finals appearances in the past four years into a title winning season.

Off field, the impact may be just as important.

Ronaldo’s CR7 brand is an incredibly marketable commodity — a bonus to a team looking to escape the shackles imposed on it by the relatively unattractive Serie A marketplace.

Juventus have long been a big fish in a shrinking pond, a brand with global ambitions in a league that is struggling to match the ostentatious wealth being displayed by its European neighbours.

The Italian giants are ranked just 10th in the list of the most football clubs by revenue according to Deloitte, and are perceived as being hamstrung by the fact that Serie A lags behind the EPL, La Liga and the Bundesliga.

This signing — the sixth highest of all time — could be seen as a sign that for Juventus at least, Serie A is still a force to be reckoned with.

And the Ronaldo effect has already had an impact. Juventus’ shares jumped almost 40 per cent at the news of his signing.

What of Madrid?

For Madrid, the impact of Ronaldo’s departure is harder to quantify.

Ronaldo leaves as Madrid’s record goal scorer, with 450 goals in 438 appearances.

With the Spanish giants he won two La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and the four of his five Ballon D’Or awards.

But he is 33 years old. At the start of last season it appeared that the writing was on the wall for Ronaldo as a global force.

At the winter break of the 2017/18 La Liga season, Ronaldo had scored just four goals, despite having taken 94 attempts at goal — the most of any player in Europe’s big five leagues.

It had been suggested that the inevitable decline of one of the world’s greatest ever strikers was being played out in front of our eyes.

But then he proved his detractors spectacularly wrong.

After returning from the winter break, Ronaldo managed 22 goals in just 21 La Liga games, as well as helping Madrid secure their third consecutive Champions League title.

Ronaldo proved that he was still a powerful force and vital part of the Madrid team.

So is this move away from the Spanish capital premature?

Perhaps.

The fact that Real lowered their prohibitively expensive 1 billion Euros buyout clause to 120 million Euros, then even further to accommodate Juventus’ advances, speaks volumes in that the club was open to a move at all.

So who’s moving to Madrid?

The bigger question perhaps is who Real have lined up as a replacement.

Last season — aside from the Champions League triumph — was a disaster for Madrid.

They finished in third spot in the league a whopping 17 points behind Barcelona and lost in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey to lowly Leganes.

Zinedine Zidane resigned just after the Champions League triumph with former Spain coach Julien Lopetegui controversially brought in to revamp the squad.

Does this clear the way for Neymar to make his long-mooted return to Spain from PSG?

Perhaps Real will target French World Cup sensation Kylian Mbappe in what would be an audacious swoop for the teenager who only recently made his move to Paris permanent.

Harry Kane is another potential option, although the fact that he signed a recent contract extension at Spurs, forcing the London club to shatter their wage structure in the process, makes that unlikely as well.

It was Neymar’s $333 million transfer to the French champions that altered the transfer landscape for ever just last year, setting a new bar for big money exchanges.

So whoever Real target, expect the numbers to be high.

Most transfers won’t be confirmed or even suggested until after the business on the pitch is completed in Russia.

This World Cup has seen some players’ stocks rise. Others plummet.

Nevther the less, Real will be seeking to fill the void. And when they do, the knock-on effects will likely be felt all around Europe.

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First posted

July 11, 2018 14:21:50





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