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Ronaldo to leave Juve?

With still a further season remaining on the ageing superstar’s mega contract, our recent failure in the CL and worrying financial situation may well meet with Ronaldo’s eagerness to finish his career at the top…which is certainly not where he finds himself with Juve. Far off the summits his talents deserve as their platform, some say.

Zidane was recently asked of a possible return to Madrid on the eve of his sides CL match against Atalanta…

“Yes, it may be,” Zidane replied. “We know Cristiano, we know the person he is and everything he has done here.

“But now he’s a Juventus player and we must respect this.

“Now, let’s see what the future will be. I was lucky enough to coach him and he is very impressive. Right now, he’s helping Juventus.”

Added to this was the widespread criticism Ronaldo received for his poor outings in both legs against FC Porto, accompanied by the allegations of more concern for his looks than defending the free kick that sent us out of the competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo slammed for turning back on free-kick with Capello  branding it 'UNFORGIVABLE' as Juventus crash out

Whilst Zidane’s words are likely skewed somewhat in translation to achieve maximum effect for media exposure, there is possibly some serious evaluation taking place both within the Juve hierarchy and also by Ronaldo himself.

He cannot play forever. His talents remain elite and even taking into account how he has changed his game in recent years, less explosive a turn of pace, he continues to score goals prolifically and prove more often than not a difference maker. He is without any doubt our strongest player. Our only player regularly of a world class level.

“There is still much more to achieve and I believe we can do it together. Goals are an essential part of who I am. I can’t stop chasing for more, looking forward to achieving another record,” Ronaldo wrote.

“I always want more and more and I think that’s why people often say that I have so much energy and that I never stop. Maybe it’s true, but this is essential to keep me alive.”

“Believe me, this story is still far from being over. The future is tomorrow and there’s still a lot to win for Juventus and Portugal!

A mix of his recent posts on social media point towards continuing the story with Juve. And there is a lot of sense to maintaining that direction, if more for the player than the club. For his wages are astronomical and unlikely to be equalled by any side which could interest him other than perhaps PSG. A rumoured return to Real seems far fetched in regards to their efforts to build a new dynasty, yet his connection to the city, the fans, the history cannot be overlooked.

I would exclude a fairytale return to United. They have the financial clout to aim for Haaland, who also seems a better fit for their needs. And have already been down the ageing veteran route with Cavani. Although he is a shadow of Ronaldo, nothing more…

Essentially, his options are far more narrow than they were when he left Real.

As much as I have been a long term detractor of the transfer – very rarely the player or his form – I am also well aware that there is a very serious case to suggest he has long been papering over seismic fault lines in the squad. To remove his goals, let alone the financial value he brings and the presence in the squad being a definite trump card for drawing others to the club as well as setting the current flock an example of the highest order, would likely see us falter more than we have done this season.

Yet it can also be considered that we have been shoe-horned into playing more to maximise his strengths than to build a cohesive team of champions-elect from Max to Sarri to Pirlo. And to remove a player of such staggering influence both on and off the field, could well encourage and allow others to shine in their own right. It could allow any manager to adopt a system focused on the collective, rather than the individual. Who knows, perhaps even Pirlo’s lofty idealism could be given a chance to prosper with 10 outfield players to meet his requirements for each specific role on the field.

It does seem counter intuitive to suggest that we could blossom more by removing by far our most clinical striker and marketable player from the squad. Though at the same time, the reality is that we have won less since he arrived at the club. Which I must make clear, is no conclusive condemnation of the player who has done as close to everything we could have expected of any human. If anything, I feel sympathy towards him, though it’s slim and he doesn’t need it.

Many will say that we were already on a downward spiral, and Ronaldo has slowed this descent. Which makes sense, and has merit. Yet there is another vein of thought…

Dybala springs to mind instantly. A player who looked potentially capable of becoming our new bandiera. Something we have not had in the final third since Del Piero left the ranks. A player who bleeds black and white for the cause and has the talent to match his zeal.

The Argentine’s future looked long term at Juve. Until Ronaldo joined. Since then the club have fought hard to sell him, coaches have played him to accomodate Ronaldo, his form has been very up and down, and this campaign, injuries aside, when he did play he was poor and very much out of sorts.

He now seems set for a departure in the Summer as absent of signing a new contract – for which he would surely want assurances he will play – the club cannot afford to let his contract wind down to then move on a free in 2022. Though on the slim chance that Ronaldo leaves, he could be revived as the front man flair merchant to become our bandiera and help lead the side to a revival and return to the upper echelons of continental football. I strongly believe in this. Though it would take a season or two or three to achieve I fear. Though what is the alternative?

Continue to have the wage budget hamstrung by Ronaldo’s millions and be forced to sell what talent we have to bring in more on whatever cut price deals we can manage? That trajectory also looks like a 2-3 year project by which time Ronaldo will be reaching towards 40…

There have been other players impacted. Mandzukic for example…More specifically Moise Kean. And those played out of position this campaign which may have much to do with focusing on Ronaldo getting into goal scoring positions or could simply be Pirlo’s system over players.

I fully understand the argument put forward by many, regularly, of how having one of the best of all time in the squad must surely raise the standard of the other players. He inspires by example, he teaches, he guides. Yet I do not believe that this outweighs the potential negatives to consider when you have a team sport and our focus is very much on and off the field on one player from our team. A player who earns 10, 20, 30 times as much as some at the club.

If I take another generational talent of another sport as an example, Michael Jordan, I find him far more emotionally connected to the squad and the club and the coach, throughout his career. His focus was as much on individual as collective success. In the documentary series of his career he comes across as both incredibly driven and also with great heart for the Bulls as a whole. He presents a sense of wanting all of them to succeed and whether others shone more than him or not, was of little relevance if victory, progress, momentum in the right direction were achieved. Whereas Ronaldo seems more driven by individual glory. He has no interest in suggesting others take the free kicks when he has scored 1 in 65 attempts. He is ever reluctant to pass an opportunity to score when a team mate may be better placed if there is the slightest chance he can strike on goal. Which is also one of his major strengths, as a player, yet I consider his particular mindset of a true champion, a better fit when played with others of at least somewhere near his standing in the game.

He was and remains a player of elite ability, who should be in a squad of champions, not the sole consistent source of quality to lean upon, with the rest of the squad both ever in transition as much as focused on that source of quality with a rookie coach still feeling his way in management.

The financial reality of his wages is that we could afford to pay 5 or 6 high quality players of much younger age if he was removed from the wage bill. Yet the other side of this is that our share price might fall, our sponsorship deals may be inclusive of ‘we will pay you Xm on the basis of Ronaldo being at the club’. I do not know for sure, but it seems logical to assume sponsors have increased their investments on the back of his presence and immense marketing potential.

I hope I have made it clear that I am not in any way launching any criticism whatsoever on the player. It is more an unexpected opportunity to spend a night drinking and writing, as have been demanded by the over-zealous boss to stop coming to the office this week…and I am appreciative of the value Ronaldo brings. Just curious to ponder what could come if he left this Summer.

It is hard for me to ‘appreciate’ simply having Ronaldo, who remains a mega star, without pondering the sporting progress (or lack there of) and the sacrifices made by the club to make the move happen and somehow work.

The domestic league table does not lie. Nor does the champions league.

My own contribution as a middle aged drunkard writer includes plenty of reference points of criticism of Pirlo, of Paratici, of the Ronalda saga. I am not in any way suggesting all we need to succeed and prosper is the devil witch golden boy GONE GONE GONE…I suppose I am convinced that Paratici and Pirlo will both remain and that there is a small chance that Ronaldo leaves, though I highly doubt it. We are as stuck with him as he is with us, and that is never a happy marriage, hence this haphazard rambling of that part of what some, not all, others, address as reasons for our downward spiral.

If I am to push myself, to consider what we could have IF the very unlikely happens…

Hard to say that Morata has not been good enough, when he has been played, or has chosen, to try far more to make chances for Ronaldo than himself. Presently, on the balance of potential transfer fees and our financial situation, I would prefer us to spend half his potential purchase price on Scamacca. See Ronaldo leave, and bring in De Paul and Locatelli. Somehow use the pitiful fee Paratici arranged for Romero (selling for less than we paid to sign him) in a deal for Gosens. Chiesa is good enough to still prove a monster in the LWF or LM position, so get Kulu on the opposite flank.

Bring in a new RB also. Juan is decent, often, yet too often haphazard defensively against top opponents.

Promote Di Pardo, Fagioli, Dragusin and with Ronaldo gone, Coreira and Ake could get chances next season to impress.

Why not also bring to the senior squad Da Graca…

Much boyish hopefulness, but I felt the piece needed some What If???? for balance.

And to those who say Dybala cannot handle the pressure of being our main man, the focus of our hopes, our talisman, I ask you to remember the season before we became ROnaldo FC>>>

Any thoughts, folks?