Outside of the World Cup, the biggest football headline this week has been Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, making him one of the four most expensive players of all time.
Real Madrid and Juventus reached a deal worth €112 million, and Ronaldo has now signed a four-year contract with the Italian champions. Speaking about the transfer Ronaldo said, “The time has come to open a new stage in my life, that’s why I asked the club to accept transferring me.”
Just a few weeks ago, Juventus signed Cancelo after the right-back impressed at Inter last season. The story goes that his agent, Jorge Mendes, met with Juventus’ president Andrea Agnelli and asked if the team would also be interested in signing Cristiano Ronaldo. Agnelli is thought to have said that it is impossible but Mendes insisted that it was a very real possibility.
However, while this is being portrayed as a fast-paced and last minute deal, the truth is that Juventus are likely to have been considering it since Il Corriere della Sera’s Turin edition ran a story in January entitled “Juventus and the CR7 Suggestion”.
Nonetheless, at the time Juventus’ chief executive Beppe Marotta downplayed the suggestions due to the costs involved saying, “For Italian clubs, not just Juventus, I think it’s impossible at the moment.”
Ronaldo had a €1 billion release clause in his contract, but obviously Juventus are not paying that much. In fact, they aren’t paying much more than they did for Gonzalo Higuain two years ago.
Many believe that spending so much money on a 33 year old is not a great idea. However, when it comes to such an exceptional player, exceptions to conventional wisdom are to be expected. They have also agreed to pay him a €30 million salary, four times more than the team’s next highest earner.
Rather than looking at the costs of bringing Ronaldo, Juventus are focusing on the money that he can make the team. The more successful the team are the more money they earn, and it is hoped that Ronaldo can help them end a 23-year wait to win the Champions League.
Furthermore, if Juventus can monetise Ronaldo’s celebrity status, (the player has over 318 million followers on social media), by bringing in new commercial partnerships and re-negotiating existing ones, then the cost will prove to be well worth the risk.
He has already had an impact on the team. Juventus’ share price went up by 33% last week. At the same time, season ticket sales, which were expected to drop after a 30% increase in the price, have been picking up pace.
From Ronaldo’s point of view, joining Juventus gives him the opportunity to add another chapter to his legacy. He can aim to match Clarence Seedorf by winning the Champions League with three different clubs, and join Paco Gento on six titles.
Juventus’ ability to secure this deal shows just how far they have come under Agnelli. Ronaldo’s decision to join them is a massive endorsement of the team and the direction they are taking. The team has a new training ground next to the Allianz Stadium, and the club’s offices have moved to a new location as well. Moving to Juventus is no longer seen in the same negative light, as it was when Agnelli took over eight years ago.
What Does it Means for Real Madrid?
Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid from Manchester United for £80 million in July 2009. Since then he has scored a club-record 450 goals and won the Ballon D’Or an incredible five times, in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
He has also helped the team win the Champions League in four of the last five seasons, and scored in the 2014 and 2017 finals.
Upon the announcement of his departure, the club released a statement saying, “For Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of the great symbols. Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude to a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football. Real Madrid will always be your home.”
However, the question now becomes, who will Real Madrid target to replace their star player. A number of names have been suggested and the team will be looking for someone who can replace him both on the pitch and off it.
At present there are six names being widely discussed, although at this point it is all rumour and speculation.
Real Madrid love bringing in star names and Neymar certainly fulfils this criteria. The forward joined Paris Saint-Germain from Madrid’s rivals Barcelona last summer for a fee of €222 million, making him the most expensive player in the world. Last season he won the league with PSG, but he was unable to prevent the onslaught of Real Madrid and they were knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. There have been rumours for a while that Neymar would be interested in a move, as well as rumours that Madrid are interested in him. Furthermore, it is far easier to arrange a move from PSG to Madrid than from Barcelona to Madrid.
Neymar has impressed at this summer’s World Cup, with moments of brilliance, but he has also been ridiculed for his play-acting. Nonetheless, he is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world at the moment. PSG will be very reluctant to sell him, but if Real Madrid really put their mind to it, then they are likely to be able to sign him.
Eden Hazard successfully captained Belgium all the way to the World Cup semi-finals this year, but now that the team has been knocked out, he is likely to be considering his club future. Hazard is just 27, in his prime, and he has put in numerous impressive performances over the past few weeks.
The Spanish newspaper AS called Hazard a “Plan C” for Real Madrid, after the PSG players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. While Hazard will probably not appreciate that, he has not yet signed a new contract at Chelsea, even after winning two Premier League titles with them. Chelsea is set to appoint a new manager and Hazard may feel that he has come to the end of his time with the London club.
At just 19 years old Kylian Mbappe has already made one big money move, when Paris Saint-Germain paid Monaco €180 million for him. Mbappe is a known Real Madrid fan and he grew up with posters of Ronaldo on his wall. Furthermore, he has been extremely impressive this summer and helped France reach the World Cup final.
Mbappe has all the raw skills to one day reach Ronaldo’s level, and even overtake him as a great of the game. Real Madrid are sure to be interested in him, but they will probably struggle to persuade PSG to let one of their most prized players go. Furthermore, Mbappe is young, so there are sure to be more opportunities for him to make the move in the future.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is known to be looking for a new home and his agent has said that he wants a “new challenge”. While he had a disappointing World Cup with Poland, Lewandowski has shown himself to be one of Europe’s top strikers on numerous occasions. He has 180 Bundesliga goals to his name and 45 in the Champions League.
While Lewandowski is 29, he would still be a good signing for Real Madrid and highly likely to score for them. He has been linked to a number of top clubs, but at present, it seems more likely that he will stay with Bayern Munich. This gives Real an opportunity, but they may shy away as Lewandowski is unlikely to be able to replace Ronaldo’s off-field marketing appeal.
At present Paulo Dybala is at Juventus, but there is every chance that Ronaldo’s arrival could see the attacker left without a place. He is a creative player, and he has scored more than fifty goals for Juventus in Serie A.
However, Juventus will now be looking at the Financial Fair Play rules and trying to find ways to balance the books. As such, they may look to cash in on the 24-year-old. However, once again there is the problem of Dybala not matching up to the profile of Ronaldo, and after he hardly featured for Argentina at the World Cup, it seems unlikely that Madrid will be interested.
Harry Kane has captured the attention of every English football fan at the World Cup and is leading the race for the Golden Boot. He scored 30 Premier League goals for Spurs last season, and more than 20 in each of the three previous seasons. With that kind of record, he has certainly caught the attention of Real Madrid.
In the past Real Madrid have made a number of huge offers for Kane, but he has always refused. Last month he signed a new six-year contract with Spurs and he looks very happy to stay with his boyhood club. It seems highly likely that he and the club would reject any offer that Madrid makes.