Europa League or a transfer: Assessing Cristiano Ronaldo’s options
It took Cristiano Ronaldo a mere three years to score 100 goals in a Juventus shirt, and while it has been quite an achievement on a personal front, the fact remains that the I Bianconeri have failed to move past the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League during his tenure.
A glance at their European campaign portrays a despairing picture, to say the least as they have been knocked out by Ajax (2018-19), Lyon (2019-20) and FC Porto (2020-21); the three clubs that had the odds stacked completely against them.
Juventus’ ambition to win the UEFA Champions League was made evident when they decided to spend a club-record 100 million Euros for the Portugal captain in 2018. And while Ronaldo has been on par, scoring goals week-in, week-out, the Old Lady’s hopes of competing in Europe’s premium competition next season now stand on thin ice.
With only one game to go in the Italian Serie A 2020-21 season, the permutations of Juventus qualifying for the next season’s UCL are complex. Ronaldo is all set to enter the final year of his Juventus contract, and the questions remain - what happens if Juventus miss out on the Champions League? Will we see Ronaldo playing in the Europa League next season?
Now, there have been several reports coming out of Italy regarding his future. While Italian journalist Claudio Raimondi says the Portugal captain wants to honour his Juventus contract right till the end, Todofichajes claims that the star forward has indeed decided to leave Italy.
For someone who holds high ambitions as Cristiano Ronaldo, it is hard to see him playing in the Europa League next season. However, there are several complications if the 36-year-old does decide to leave Turin. While his form hasn’t really been an issue, a year still remaining in his contract could mean the interested party will have to shell out a hefty sum to get his signature. Now, Ronaldo isn’t an investment for the future, he is rather a quick fix, and judging by the look of things, it is hard to see any club splashing 100 million Euros for a 36-year-old. Above all, are Juventus ready to bear a loss in this transaction in the first place?
Will Cristiano Ronaldo transfer to Manchester United?
A return to Old Trafford is being touted as one of the possibilities and while the Red Devils faithful will indeed love to see their former star donning the iconic shirt once again, Manchester United have other positions to fix. The 2020-21 Premier League season should remind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to prioritise getting a new centre-back and a defensive midfielder instead if they are to challenge for the title next season.
If that is indeed the case, it is hard to see United spending a huge amount of money to get Ronaldo back in the Premier League.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo return to Sporting?
While Ronaldo’s mother, Dolores Aveiro, was quick to point out the fact she will try to convince the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to move back to Sporting, his agent, Jorge Mendes has refused any kind of possibility.
"Cristiano is very proud of Sporting winning the championship, as he has demonstrated publicly," Mendes told Portuguese newspaper Record.
"But at the moment, his career plans do not go through Portugal."
What are the other options for Cristiano Ronaldo?
Lack of suitors narrows the choices to two clubs - Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. While PSG’s financial prowess would make them easier to land Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese’s joyful relationship with Zinedine Zidane could work in Madrid’s favour too.
A return to Real Madrid could be one of the possibilities, but one needs to keep in mind the fact why he left the capital club in the first place. As Ronaldo had himself stated, he no longer felt the club ‘considered him the same way that they did at the start.’
All this leaves PSG in a strong state. It goes without saying that Ronaldo would love the nature of Ligue 1, but if the French champions do get their hands on the Portuguese, it will be interesting to see how they will accommodate their front line.
Safe to say that Cristiano Ronaldo is standing at a crossroads. While on one way there’s Europa League football and the final year commitment with Juventus, there could be a lack of potential suitors on the other.
Featured photo: AFP / Miguel Medina