Cristiano Ronaldo Betting: Will Real Madrid Sell Their Superstar?
Portugal were ousted from the 2018 FIFA World Cup last week after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and a stout defensive Uruguay side. The Portuguese entered the tournament with high hopes after a shocking victory at Euro 2016 a couple of years ago in France, but it was not to be.
Cristiano Ronaldo was outstanding at the beginning of the tournament, but his influence faded as the World Cup progressed. The Real Madrid superstar bagged a hat trick in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain before firing home the opening salvo in Portugal’s next game, a 1-0 triumph over Morocco. He failed to find the back of the net in either of Portugal’s next couple of games, and the defending European champions were in the round of 16.
Now that Portugal are out, Ronaldo will turn his attention to the upcoming domestic campaign. He has led Real Madrid to 3 consecutive victories in the UEFA Champions League, bringing his career total to 5. Ronaldo also won the tournament back in 2007-08 with Manchester United before winning his first Champions League with Los Blancos in 2013-14.
Ronaldo is still considered to be arguably the best player on the planet, even now that he’s 33. He has won everything there is to win since leaving Manchester for the Spanish capital in 2009. In addition to his 4 Champions League titles with Real, Ronaldo has bagged a pair of La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Rey trophies and 2 Supercopa de Espana titles. Ronaldo has also won the Ballon d’Or (awarded to the world’s best player) 4 times since taking his career to Spain.
With nothing left to prove with the world’s most famous club, might Ronaldo be on the move? Reports surfaced after Portugal’s ouster that that may indeed be the case. If he does leave Real Madrid, where will he go?
Juventus Stand Above the Rest
Most fresh reports indicate that Italian giants with an eye on Ronaldo. You can bet literally any club in the world would welcome the player with open arms, but Ronaldo also reportedly has interest in joining Juve. According to the BBC, Madrid are set to consider a hefty bid from Juventus as the Italians look to lure his signature.
While winning Champions League again was a great achievement, there are still plenty of challenges facing Real moving forward. Head coach Zinedine Zidane announced his resignation shortly after the season, and he was quickly replaced by ex-Spain boss Julen Lopetegui. While the European campaign was a success, the team’s league form faltered. Madrid finished in third place behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Los Blancos finished 17 points adrift of their El Clasico rivals.
Up until now, the most Juventus have ever shelled out for a player is £79m. Juve forked over that amount in order to acquire Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli 2 summers ago. The Italian side is reportedly set to offer about £88m for the rights to Ronaldo. That would eclipse the £80 million Real forked over to get Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009.
Ronaldo has reportedly grown unhappy with the way things have gone recently at the club. It’s not the first time this has happened, and every other time the club have just chosen to give him a pay raise and move on. This time, though, it sounds as though Madrid aren’t too keen on upping his wages. So, a sale would seem to be the most prudent path forward for both parties.
Considering Cristiano will be 34 by the end of next season, this is probably the right time to be parting ways.
One potential stumbling block is Ronaldo’s current salary. Higuain is currently the highest-earning player at Juventus, and Ronaldo makes about 4 times that much. Juve would certainly have enough financial wherewithal to accommodate Ronaldo’s hefty contract demands, but it could come at a cost. Juventus may have to sell some of its own players in order to clear up enough cash to throw at Cristiano.
Snagging Ronaldo would not be the first strike of the summer for Juve, who have won 7 consecutive Serie A titles. The Italian power has already acquired Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Joao Cancelo (Valencia), Emre Can (Liverpool) and Mattia Perin (Genoa), among others. They have done far more buying than selling, with the sale of defensive midfielder Tomas Rincon for €6 million to Torino being the biggest departure thus far.
The murmurs have gotten so strong that Juventus are now heavy favorites to be Ronaldo’s team to begin the 2018/19 campaign. He is currently listed at 1-5 to make his way to Italy, with Madrid checking in second at 3-1. Manchester United (14-1) and PSG (20-1) look like long shots.
If Ronaldo Leaves, Who Comes In?
Selling a player of Ronaldo’s caliber would be a blow to the extensive Real Madrid fan base, but a new shiny toy coming in to replace him would help smooth things over. Dumping Ronaldo would open all sorts of financial flexibility for Los Blancos, so you can be sure they won’t hesitate to try and buy another big name.
The prevailing rumor to this point is that Madrid has interest in Neymar. The Brazilian famously plied his craft at Barcelona for years, but he reportedly grew tired of being overshadowed by Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. In order to get out from under the shadow, Neymar essentially forced a move to Paris St. Germain last summer for a world-record fee of €222 million.
Neymar went on to enjoy a brilliant individual campaign for Paris, but it was clear that the level of competition for him was nowhere up to par. The French league is far from one of the best leagues in Europe. It was no surprise that Neymar had his way. While he did lead the French giants to a Ligue 1 title, the team disappointingly bowed out in Champions League once again after he suffered a foot injury.
While signing Neymar would be a massive boost, Madrid is reportedly keen on pairing him with one of his current PSG teammates. 19-year-old French sensation Kylian Mbappe is also reportedly on Real’s radar. Former Spain international Luis Garcia recently said that he hopes Madrid will make the swoop to land both players together. He said, “Real Madrid is always looking for the best players. Neymar has shown how big he is in this World Cup and Mbappe has been amazing for France. They could be two big signings for Real Madrid.”
While there are plenty of rumors surrounding a potential departure for Neymar, the odds say he is likely to stay right where he is next season. The Brazilian talisman is 3-10 to stay at Paris St. Germain to begin next season. A potential move to Madrid, which feels like the only plausible alternative at this point, is listed at 9-4.
Mbappe is 1-4 to stick with PSG. Like Neymar, this past season was the Frenchman’s first in the French capital after coming up through the Monaco academy. Mbappe helped lead Monaco to an unlikely Ligue 1 title before making the move to Paris last summer for a whopping €145 million. You can bet Real would need to offer even more than that in order to pry the youngster out of France.
While Madrid is Madrid, it feels unrealistic to expect them to be able to land both players from PSG. They are a club that certainly has the funds to do so, but the most realistic scenario would seem to be settling for one. Neymar is the more likely of the 2 at this point, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up suiting up in Spain again next season. Mbappe looks more likely to stick with his current club, at least for now.
Is Ronaldo Gone?
We have heard plenty of Ronaldo transfer rumors in past summers, but this one feels a bit different. Fresh off of his World Cup exit, it is probably time for both the player and the team to go in a different direction. Nobody can question Ronaldo’s legacy at Madrid, as he has helped lead the club to new heights during his tenure.
Now it’s time for a new challenge. He will boost what is already a stacked Juventus squad gunning for an eighth consecutive Italian league title. While that would look like a lock if they are able to land a player of Cristiano’s caliber, European glory remains elusive. Juve came close 2 seasons ago before being beaten by Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
Juventus have not won a European title since the 1995-96 season when they defeated Ajax. Since then, the Italian powers have appeared in the final 5 times and lost them all. Adding Ronaldo would certainly give them a player that knows what it takes to win on the biggest European stage.
Juve’s odds to win Europe’s most prestigious tournament will get a boost if they do ultimately sign Ronaldo. The odds for Madrid will temporarily take a hit, but you can be sure they will still be among the favorites, depending on who they choose to replace the superstar. At this point, it looks like Juve’s gain will be Real Madrid’s loss. At least for now.