It’s a small event that took place last season: for the first time since his very first season at Real Madrid in 2009-2010, Cristiano Ronaldo ended a year without the slightest collective title. Twelve years, therefore, that the Portuguese star in the five Champions League had not known this. The previous season, he was part of the Juventus side that failed to extend their hegemony in Italy, with Inter Milan halting the Turin streak to nine consecutive titles.
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Sad facts that recall another: CR7 has not passed the quarter-finals of the C1 since his victory with the Merengues in 2018. In summary, the 37-year-old striker has less and less chance of putting himself in evidence in the moments that matter at the end of the season. The blame is shared: collectively, Juventus and Manchester United have rarely shone in the game during his stints. But on the side of the Red Devils, his weight in the collective and his stalls have regularly been debated.
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A CR7 always present individually
Impossible, however, to say that the Portuguese no longer does the job individually. He remains on a season with 24 goals in 38 matches in all competitions, including as many in the Premier League (18) as in his last pre-Real Madrid season with the Red Devils. The native of Funchal is, moreover, still capable of brilliant blows: no one will forget that he single-handedly qualified Man U for the knockout stages of the last Champions League, and even less his hat-trick against Tottenham last March.
Therefore, it is difficult to see clearly: are the clubs through which Ronaldo passes from Real Madrid ambitious enough for him? Does he deserve better given his statistics and despite his veteran status, he who scored 101 times in 134 matches with Juventus? A vagueness symbolized by the rumors which surround the person concerned since the opening of the transfer market.
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Some, like Sky Sports, indicate that he will go to the end of his contract in Manchester. Others, like Record, explain that the lack of ambition of the English club could encourage him to leave. And the names of the alleged candidates are becoming as varied as they are eccentric, from Chelsea to AS Roma via Sporting Portugal. But whatever the rest of his summer, can Ronaldo claim better than what he currently has?
Which top club to welcome Ronaldo?
Still, from a tactical point of view, it is not easy to imagine CR7 blending into the collective of Thomas Tuchel, who suffered from Lukaku’s lack of connection with his partners last season, and who regularly lined up the very mobile Kai Havertz in the number 9 position. A questionable question, of course. But more generally, which top European club is now ready to change its game plan to accommodate a Ronaldo with a substantial salary in the short term?
Depending on what Tammy Abraham will do, AS Roma could be that team, but hasn’t been part of the European elite for many years, not to mention the salary issue. Sporting would look like a pre-retirement. While waiting for other candidates to declare themselves, while The Gazzetta dello Sport explains that the Portuguese star would see himself returning to Serie A…
A United still too tender for the title
What if he stays? True or not, the rumors about his impatience with the Mancunian transfer window make sense. The Red Devils have not moved on the market since the arrival of Erik ten Hag, while Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic or Edinson Cavani will leave the club. Potential recruits, from Frenkie de Jong to Antony via Pau Torres or Christian Eriksen, are still a long way from arriving. And if we must not insult the future, this first season of the Dutch coach will necessarily look like a transition. In other words, there is little chance of seeing United, only qualified for the Europa League, getting involved in the fight for the Premier League title.
Ronaldo now seems to be at an impasse in his quest for the most prestigious titles. In Manchester, where the adventure is likely to end in a year at the latest, all the conditions are not yet in place to find the heights. Elsewhere, securing his services this summer will involve big concessions. CR7 still has it under its feet, no doubt. But from a collective point of view, he no longer has his destiny in his hands as much.
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