What’s behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus? And what does it all mean for Real Madrid?
The Portuguese superstar is on the way to Juventus in a £105m move, with both the Turin club and Real Madrid confirming they have agreed a deal for his transfer.
Here, we answer the key questions surrounding the move with Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
Why does Ronaldo want to leave?
Ultimately, it comes down to him not feeling wanted enough. Ronaldo has spent nine glittering seasons with Madrid and lifted his fourth Champions League trophy in five years just a few weeks ago, but he has a complicated relationship with club president Florentino Perez.
“It’s a personal issue,” Balague told Sky Sports in Friday’s episode of the Transfer Talk podcast. “Juventus are happy to pay him €30m net per year. He would earn the same if he signed a new contract at Real Madrid, but he feels he’s not wanted.
“The background is that a year ago, Perez said he would increase Ronaldo’s wages. Cristiano was waiting for an offer, and meanwhile, Lionel Messi got a new contract worth €41m net per year, Neymar is earning €35m net per year, and he is only earning €21m net per year.
“He also feels there is a lot of talk about Neymar. When Cristiano won the Ballon d’Or, Perez said that if Neymar wanted to win the Ballon d’Or he needed to move to Real Madrid. Cristiano didn’t like that, but when he threatened them with leaving, he felt Real Madrid didn’t do enough to try and keep him.
“It’s all very confusing. He wants to leave but at the same time he wants to be stopped. Anyway, Real Madrid are happy to let him go, but they want him to say publicly that he’s leaving, so the finger of blame goes to him and they can give him a spectacular send-off.”
Can Juventus really afford him?
Balague estimates the total cost of the transfer, including all fees and wages over the course of the proposed four-year contract, would total upwards of €400m euros.
“Quite clearly, financial fair play will play a part here, which means they will have to be very careful how they do this, but Real Madrid believe Juventus have sorted that out.
“I believe in the last 48 hours [amid the Ronaldo speculation], the value of Juventus in the stock market has increased 20 per cent. That explains one reason why they want him.”
Juventus would, however, need to sell players to balance the books. One player who has already been linked with an exit is Gonzalo Higuain, who is reportedly a target for Chelsea.
Were there any other suitors?
Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s agent, also sounded out Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United about the possibility of signing him, according to Balague, but both clubs said they were not interested, leaving Juventus with a clear run at him.
Could Ronaldo keep winning at Juventus?
Ronaldo would be confident of adding to his vast trophy collection at Juventus. The Old Lady are totally dominant in Italian football having won seven consecutive Serie A titles and four consecutive league and cup doubles.
They are a European force, too. Juventus have not won the Champions League since the 1995/96 season, but they have reached two finals in the last five years. With Ronaldo on their side instead of standing in their way, they would fancy their chances of going one better.
What next for Madrid?
After 450 goals in 438 appearances – including 44 in 44 last season – Ronaldo’s departure would leave a gaping hole at Real Madrid. So how do they plan to replace him?
“Florentino is not stupid, so if he’s letting Cristiano go it’s because something is happening,” said Balague.
But while Real Madrid are sure to flex their financial muscles if Ronaldo does depart, acquiring a new Galactico will not be easy.
“The new Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui was told that there were going to be five new players, but I don’t see a Galactico available,” says Balague.
“The plan that was designed in the last few months was that Real Madrid’s attack would be Neymar, Marco Asensio and Cristiano, but PSG are saying there is no way they will let Neymar go. We will see now, with more money and more pressure involved, how that pans out, but PSG have said there is absolutely no way Neymar is leaving.”
Real Madrid have also been linked with Neymar’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe, with Eden Hazard another reported target, but Balague says Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski could prove to be out of their reach.
“I know Harry Kane will be linked to Real Madrid but I still believe he’s going to stay at Spurs with his new contract and so on,” said Balague. “Lewandowski is desperately trying to leave Bayern Munich but they don’t want to let him go. So it’s not as easy as it may sound for Real Madrid.”
What would it mean for Gareth Bale?
“The idea was to sell Bale but now everything changes,” said Balague. “He could get transformed into a newly-born Galactico.
“Ronaldo is one of the best players in history and Bale hasn’t got to that level yet, but what will happen is that without Ronaldo, Bale will grow. I believe Real Madrid think the same.”
Bale struggled for playing time under Zinedine Zidane, but his departure is another potential boost to the Welshman.
“From the moment Zidane went, there was a sigh of relief from Bale’s side, so much so that the conversations that were going to take place around now have been delayed.
“Now they will take place after Bale has met Lopetegui and started pre-season. At that point it will be clearer what Real Madrid are going to look like, but straight away you’ve got Bale and Asensio, two people who can give so much more and make them competitive.
“Ronaldo was the guy who took things to another level when things got tough, so whoever else comes in will have to fill that gap.”
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