If Cristiano Ronaldo signs for Juventus, by far the most shocking aspect of the transfer will be that it was Tuttosport who got the scoop.
With previous headline stories linking the Bianconeri to Neymar, Lionel Messi and just about every superstar under the sun, no-one gave much credence to the Turin sports daily’s front page on Sunday morning, which insisted negotiations for the Portuguese superstar were ongoing.
Slowly though both Spanish and Portuguese outlets began picking up on the story, as did some of the more reputable Italian media. Soon it became clear that, whatever the likelihood of a deal going ahead, there is genuine interest from the Old Lady.
The prospect of CR7 coming to Turin raises two fundamental questions. Should Juventus sign Ronaldo? And, more importantly, could Juventus sign Ronaldo?
The first is easy to answer. While some may point to the fact the Portuguese is now 33, he is still one of the very best players in the world. In 40 games for Real Madrid last season, the Ballon d’Or winner slammed in 41 goals, including a stunning bicycle kick against the Bianconeri in Turin.
He may no longer be the flying winger he was in his earlier days, but Ronaldo has adapted his game to become the deadliest striker in world football. Consider that one-in-two is the generally accepted barometer for a striker, then have a look at Ronaldo’s stats. Since he joined Los Merengues in 2009, the forward has scored 450 goals in 438 games. In nine seasons, he has more goals than games.
A precipitous decline seems unlikely too, given Ronaldo’s famously meticulous attention to fitness, diet and training. If Leo Messi is a magician, his longtime rival is The Terminator.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ronaldo is a winner. That fits well with the philosophy in Turin of course - Giampiero Boniperti once famously said winning “is the only thing that matters” - but CR7 is a winner in Europe, and that’s what the Old Lady really craves.
Ronaldo has lifted the Champions League five times, including for the past three seasons in a row. His European goal-scoring record reads 105 goals in 101 games. If you want to win the Champions League, he’s your man.
As a player then, there’s no question Ronaldo would be a dream signing. As well as representing a coup for Juventus, arguably the world’s best player moving to Serie A would represent a huge boost for the league.
The issue is whether the deal is actually possible. If reports are to be believed, Ronaldo is demanding €30m per season, which would smash Juve’s wage structure. Consider that Gonzalo Higuain is the top earning player in Serie A on €7.5m per season and you get an idea of the scale of the deal.
There have been rumours that Adidas could step in and sponsor the move if Ronaldo switches allegiances to them but that is, quite frankly, fanciful. CR7 is one of only three athletes - along with LeBron James and Michael Jordan - to have a ‘lifetime deal’ with Nike.
That contract is thought to be worth $1bn, and will continue even after Ronaldo hangs up his boots. There will be a way to get out of it - there always is - but why would he want to?
A second option is that FIAT could sponsor Ronaldo off the pitch, paying the bulk of his salary for CR7 to convince people that he drives a Fiat 500 when he’s not in his Jeep Grand Cherokee.
That would risk the wrath of UEFA though, given it would be a way of circumventing Financial Fair Play. This week the governing body re-opened an investigation into Paris Saint-Germain, who use similar sponsorship deals to pay their players, while Milan have been excluded from the Europa League. Will the Bianconeri hierarchy really take such a risk?
Add in the fact Miralem Pjanic, Paulo Dybala and Alex Sandro would also surely demand commensurate salaries, and Ronaldo in Bianconero looks even more unlikely.
Leonardo Bonucci’s move to Milan last summer looked improbable, but this would be on another planet. Until Ronaldo steps foot on the tarmac at the Caselle airport in Turin, this looks more like a Jorge Mendes ploy for another record contract in Madrid.
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