He might be 36 now, but with 95 goals in 123 games for Juventus, there would be no shortage of suitors should Cristiano Ronaldo choose to leave ‘La Vecchia Signora’ - the Old Lady - at the end of this season.
But has his time in Italy been successful? And are we seeing signs now of a fading warrior?
Ronaldo was signed for €100m in 2018 with the principal aim of bringing continental glory to a team who had become supremely dominant in their domestic league, having racked up 7 consecutive ‘Scudettos’. He recently overtook the great Pele’s long-standing scoring record. A quick-fire hat-trick against Cagliari in March 2021 took his career tally in official matches to 770.
Ronaldo has added 2 more league titles to his impressive career record, but has not won the Ballon D’Or - the most prestigious award for an individual soccer player - since 2017, or - significantly - the UEFA Champions League with Juventus. In each of Ronaldo’s 3 seasons in Italy, Juventus are yet to make it past the Quarter Final stage of Europe’s premier club competition. The Italians were dumped out recently in a surprising defeat to Porto, with Ronaldo himself facing criticism for turning his back on the free-kick which ended up being the decisive goal.
They have scored fewer goals, conceded more and won less games for their title successes since Ronaldo arrived. His record of 1 goal scored from a direct free-kick in 72 attempts makes grim reading for the Portuguese star.
And now, in possibly his final year in Italy, it looks very likely that Juventus will surrender their decade long grip on Serie A.
One thing that is for certain, is Ronaldo’s desire to keep fighting. He was notably silent following the Porto defeat, issuing a defiant message four days later: “More important than the number of falls you take in life, is how fast and how strong you get back on your feet... True champions never break!”
Rumours from Italy suggest that Real Madrid may come back in for their former star. ‘Los Blancos’ have suffered a period of decline since Ronaldo’s departure, unable to fill the gap vacated by his 451 goals (in 438 games). There is also speculation linking him with another return, this time to English fallen giants, Manchester United.
If he is fit, Ronaldo will surely lead his country this summer in their quest to retain the European Championships. However there remains question marks here too, as Portugal is a squad full of young attacking talent.
One thing is for certain, while Ronaldo may be an ageing star, his personal statistics show no suggestion of his powers being completely diminished.
This warrior has one more fight in him, right?
What next for Ronaldo?
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