The four-time Ballon d’Or winner has been at the centre of a transfer storm but demonstrated his composure and class in the Confederations Cup
It’s been a complicated week for Cristiano Ronaldo. Ever since stories broke in his native Portugal and in Spain where he plays for Real Madrid there has been uncertainty that you don’t normally associate with one of the world’s best players over his future.
Transfer squabbles are not for the uber-elite. They stay put because they are paid well and treated well – usually – at clubs who set out to dominate every competition they enter.
What’s happened with Ronaldo amid the fall out of the Spanish public prosecutor’s allegations of tax fraud has launched somewhat of a phony war. On one side there is the player himself and his agent Jorge Mendes and on the other Real Madrid. Ronaldo was said to be upset that Real did not immediately come out in support of him and the wheels were set in motion for the unthinkable – a Real Madrid exit after eight goal-laden years.
Events over the past two days seem to have calmed things down on that front. Club president Florentino Perez began his new term with an interview lamenting a “very strange” situation but stopping just short of a guarantee Ronaldo would stay. This – however – would appear to be enough to satisfy the Ronaldo camp with stories emerging in the Madrid press that he is now prepared to remain.
For Madrid and for the player himself, that is a must. Ronaldo would score goals anywhere as he has developed into the world’s best centre forward but at this stage of his career it is hard to imagine him replicating the conditions and privilege he enjoys at Madrid anywhere else.
At 32-years-old, he needs neither a move for money nor a challenge in a new country. It’s best for him to stay put, win more cups and maybe even try to catch Pele’s 1,000 goal mark. The Santiago Bernabeu is the best place to do that.
Real would be committing an act of self harm on an epic scale if they let Ronaldo slip from their grasp no matter what price he could fetch. There isn’t a forward in the world to replace him. Kylian Mbappe might well end up as Madrid’s goalscorer-in-chief but to trade the four-time Ballon d’Or winner for a teenager would be a bizarre, inadvisable move.
Ronaldo scored his 32nd goal in 32 games for club and country against Russia in Portugal’s second Confederations Cup game. A first-half header looked all too easy and he celebrated fully in his characteristic fashion.
Coach Fernando Santos and whatever player put up for press conference duties have so far successfully dodged any significant questions about Ronaldo’s future.
He appears relaxed and happy among his countrymen, laughing and smiling throughout opening training sessions and at quiet moments during matches. He made his mascot’s dreams come true by offering her his anthem jacket just before the game kicked off. He is playing well and only showing frustration with himself when his chances go astray.
He has a very good team around him here with Bernando Silva and Andre Silva entering the fray having missed the European Championship victory last summer which qualified Portugal for this tournament.
They are demonstrating their full versatility too; last summer they were content to cede possession to opposition teams before hitting on the break. With a playmaker the quality of Bernardo they look very comfortable in getting on the ball and dictating the play.
The centre piece? Ronaldo. This was the first and only game to sell out at the Confederations Cup with Moscow locals flocking to the brand new Spartak Stadium for a glimpse at Ronaldo first and foremost.
He didn’t disappoint.