“It’s been beautiful to play for Real Madrid.” Those were the words echoed by Portuguese superstar Christiano Ronaldo after Real Madrid secured their third consecutive hold on the UEFA Champions League and their 13th overall with a victory over Liverpool in Kiev, Ukraine. Make no mistake about it, CR7 has been instrumental in Real Madrid’s success since he first joined the club back in the summer of 2009. To date, he has scored an impressive 311 league goals in 292 appearances. Cristiano’s deal expires in 2021 and at age 33, he will be 36 when his current deal expires- he’s no longer a spring chicken. Will it benefit Real Madrid to keep the Portuguese forward until his current deal expires?
Ronaldo has changed his game in recent seasons. No longer can he run up and down the wings for 90 minutes. Under now former-Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, CR7 started to play fewer games season after season to preserve him for important league and cup matches. He has also spent more time in and around the box compared to on the wings. It will be tough for a new manager to come in and handle Ronaldo the way Zidane did.
On the financial side, it is said that Ronaldo is unhappy with his current salary, which is lower than Lionel Messi at FC Barcelona and Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain.
But if Ronaldo is to leave Real Madrid, where would he end up? In Europe, there are very few destinations for CR7. But before we look at those destinations, let’s look outside Europe first.
Chinese clubs have the financial muscle to lower players to the Superleague. In December of 2016, BBC Sport reported that Ronaldo’s manager, Jorge Mendes, told reporters that an unnamed Chinese club offered Real Madrid $300 million for the forward. In March of 2018 former Brazilian National Team manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said Ronaldo is interested by offers to move to China. Scolari claimed that Ronaldo even asked him what it is like to live in China. Oscar, Didier Drogba, Hulk, Stephane M’Bia and Fredy Guarín sit atop a long list of foreign players to move to China in recent years. China is also a large market for Ronaldo and his various sponsors to expand to, but it’s still unlikely that he’d move to a much lower league.
Cristiano has long been a lover of the bright lights of these United States. But where would he end up? If he should leave Real Madrid this summer, there are very few options. The Los Angeles Galaxy already have Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their ranks, and that would certainly be a clash of egos. Los Angeles FC, an expansion club that debuted in April of this year, might try to emulate the Galaxy’s David Beckham signing of 2007. Ronaldo could also look to the east coast, where the New York Red Bulls and NY FC could be potential landing spots. Miami, Florida also has plans to expand in 2020- a year before Ronaldo’s current contract expires.
But back to Europe, financially only three clubs could take on the wages and even the transfer fee of CR7. They are Manchester City, Manchester United, and Paris Saint-Germain.
Financially Manchester City FC, the current Premier League Champions, can sign Ronaldo but it’s unlikely considering Pep Guardiola is building a young squad to dominate England and Europe for years to come. Signing a world renowned player who’s 33 doesn’t sound like the long term goal for the club right now.
For Manchester United, manager Jose Mourinho has a long history of signing players he has already worked with, and he has no problem signing players who are on the other side of 30. Ronaldo played for Man U from 2003-2009, winning 3 Premier League titles, the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League title and the 2008 FIFA Club title.
Outside of England, PSG (the French Champions) have the best shot at landing CR7. They are looking to make a name for themselves in Europe and signing a player who has won the competition 5 times could be the missing piece of the jigsaw they need. There could even be a swap deal involving Neymar and CR7. Who knows? Stranger things have happened in football.
The world will eagerly await what will happen in this summer’s transfer window with Real Madrid and CR7.