It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Realistic Destinations for Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo's explosive interview and the subsequent cancellation of his contract by Manchester United begs the question of where he'll go next. With that in mind, here is my opinion on his seven most realistic destinations. But if you're in a whimsical mood and would prefer to read alternatives views on where Ronaldo could end up, we also have you covered here: Other Destinations for Cristiano Ronaldo
With that said, in honor of the man most known as CR7, here are the seven most realistic destinations we see for Cristiano Ronaldo starting in January.
PSG is notorious for making legendary splashes in the transfer markets. This move would be a fitting third sequel to the breathtaking additions of Neymar, Mbappe, and then Messi in prior years. If they weren't already, this transfer would make PSG the most followed and talked about team in footballing history. Just imagine the scenes and storylines emanating from Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi sharing the same field and locker room. Money is clearly not an issue here, so if your concern is how all four megastars would fit on the pitch, there's actually an easy fix. A 4-2-3-1 with Messi at the 10, Mbappe at the left wing, Neymar at the right wing, and Ronaldo leading the line. The rest is history.
The most obvious dilemma here is Ronaldo himself. He seems obsessed with one-upping Messi, and there's no way to do that if you're on the same team. I think PSG will be interested, especially with the possibility of Mbappe's summer exit, but Ronaldo may ultimately veto the move.
The Chelsea move is interesting because he wouldn't be joining a club competing for a premier league trophy but would be joining one technically still in the running for a legacy-defining Champions League win. There were already rumors that part of why new American owner Todd Boehly parted ways with Thomas Tuchel was because the latter refused to entertain the potential signing of Ronaldo over the summer. Now there's a second chance at a considerably cheaper price.
The issue here is Graham Potter is in the vein of modern coaches with high-pressing requirements for all ten outfield players. And if you listened to the Ronaldo interview, you know he does not believe in that approach, and it may have been part of the issue he had with Rangnick and Ten Hag. So sure, Chelsea could sign Ronaldo, setting Twitter ablaze, but I struggle to see him getting along with Graham Potter.
Napoli qualifies because of what it could offer Ronaldo's legacy. They are a top-5 team in Europe, running away with the Serie A, and topped a UCL group with Liverpool adding an impressive 4-1 victory over the reigning Champions League finalists. So, if Ronaldo wants to join a team that offers him a chance to win more major trophies in the short term, he'll have to take a pay cut, but this is it. And for the Napoli side, as incredible as Victor Osimhen is, he is fairly injury prone evident that he's yet to play 30 league games in a single season so far in his six years in the top flight. The last thing you want is an untimely Osimhen injury with no elite goal scorer to replace him, ending your chance at a historic season.
The downside to this move is how fickle and fragile chemistry can be. And as much as you hate to admit it, Ronaldo does have a history of damaging team chemistry when things aren't going his way. I still remember the Real Madrid days when he'd look visibly annoyed when a teammate scored instead of passing to him for a tap-in as he was desperate to match Messi's goalscoring accolades. And I'm sure I don't need to say much more about what recently happened at United. Napoli will be aware of this, and adding Ronaldo to a young team that seems to love and enjoy playing with and for each other may be a recipe for disaster.
Newcastle makes this list as one of a handful of teams who could afford Ronaldo's wages. Add to that they've been on an upward trajectory with an elite coach in Eddie Howe, money to match and surpass any team in the world, and are third in the Premier League table with only seven points off the top. You could also argue that the only position they're missing is a truly elite goal scorer, which is precisely what you get with Ronaldo.
The problem here comes down to playing style. I've written an article about players selecting the ideal transfers for their strengths, and with Ronaldo no longer the athlete he once was, joining a team that likes to sit deep and exploit counterattacks makes little sense. This team is perfect for a player like Miguel Almiron and his explosive pace, but not for Ronaldo, who likes to do most of his work in the 18 yard box.
The country of Portugal loves Ronaldo, and going back home comes with its own charms. This fit on the field is also the perfect scenario. Sporting CP is one of the big four in Portugal, not too far off the best teams but didn't win the league last year and is currently in 5th place and 12 points off the top. Perfect for Ronaldo to come in and play the hero, and if it doesn't work out, he'll still have his goals, and the fans will love him for coming back to his childhood club after leaving in 2003. Ronaldo is obsessed with his legacy, and this is arguably the best for that.
The problem is the pay cut he'll have to take and the reality that Sporting CP won't compete for any major European trophies. Signing for this club would mean he's bowing out of winning any more Champions League trophies. It may also prove to be frustrating playing with a lower quality of teammates than he's had over his glamourous career.
Sadio Mane just had surgery and will be out for an undisclosed amount of time. For Bayern, we're not talking about a multiyear deal here, purely a six-month arrangement to make a run at another Champions League trophy. And this might be the perfect club for Ronaldo. They've already had another legendary-stationary striker in Robert Lewandowski, who added little to the team outside of banging in an unfathomable number of goals. Ronaldo can be that same hitman for a Bayern team lacking a cutting edge this season and will be missing their new lead striker in Mane.
The negative is that the personality of the two entities does not mesh well. Take the reality that despite scoring all those goals for Bayern Munich, many at the club and the fanbase never felt connected to Lewandowski because of his robotic obsession with scoring goals that seemed to be more about him than the club. Ronaldo is that same character on an even larger scale. It's why I suggest a six-month arrangement. Think of it like a rebound from a long-term relationship. Rebounds are short and fun because the longer they last, the more chaotic it all becomes.
Not sure who would win here, so I'll list them side by side. LAFC won the most recent MLS Cup, meaning they've officially dwarfed LA Galaxy on the field. Since Zlatan left, it's actually been LAFC that has signed the likes of global stars like Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale. If LA Galaxy wants to return to its glory days in Los Angeles and the MLS, where they signed the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerard, and Ashley Cole, they'll go all out for Ronaldo. From the perspective of LAFC, they have a couple of Ronaldo's high-profiled former teammates in Bale & Chiellini, which bodes well for their chances, as does the fact that they're on the upward trajectory in reputation compared to LA Galaxy's downward trajectory.
The downside here is this would be throwing in the towel. No more European football, no more high-profiled Champions League games, and the end of his time at the center of the footballing world. They can for sure afford his wages, but this is the ultimate calling-it-quits move as he joins a league slowly migrating from its reputation in its formative years as a retirement league for washed-up European stars.
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