Even now, it seems too outlandish to be true. The idea of Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus began much like many other nonsensical Serie A transfer rumours, splashed across the front page of Tuttosport as their latest shock news story. It is hard to know whether to put the word ‘shock’ or ‘news’ in quotation marks there, the Turin-based tabloid so often guilty of publishing rumours which have so little credibility that the only surprise is that they weren’t written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
However, the Ronaldo story appears to have much more truth to it, with many of Italy’s most reliable reporters adding details to the story over the past week. The potential fee, salary expected by the Portuguese megastar and even the compensation owed to his agent Jorge Mendes have all been discussed at length, with the majority of those sources appearing to agree on the finer points of the potential move.
Whether or not the five-time Ballon d’Or winner does swap Real Madrid’s iconic all-white strip for the famous contrasting stripes of Italian football’s grand Old Lady remains to be seen, but she has already undoubtedly benefitted from the link. Indeed, it was reported late last week that three days after those initial reports, the Juve share price had risen by 22 percent, which the Calcio e Finanza website insisted meant the club’scapital had gone from €665m to €825m.
That spike represents the first indication of what pulling off this deal could mean to the Bianconeri, who would undoubtedly continue to see their stock rising off the field, should the outlandish idea actually happen. The lure of increased revenue from shirt sales, branding and other sponsorships would be incredible, such is the marketing prowess of a 33-year-old icon who is almost a business unto himself.
Yet for those supporters who routinely pass through the turnstiles at Juventus Stadium, those numbers pale into insignificance compared to the impact Ronaldo could have on the field. They have enjoyed the domestic dominance they have witnessed since moving there in 2011, and seven consecutive Scudetti – and four league-and-cup doubles – is a truly historic achievement. However, it is Champions League glory they covet above all else right now.
That it has been Ronaldo, first in the 2017 Final and then again in last season’s quarter-finals, who has twice ended their hopes is not lost on a fan base who have now waited 22 years to see their side triumph in UEFA’s elite competition. Simply taking him away from those Madrid teams would arguably have seen Juve emerge triumphant, but adding him to their own squad would unquestionably make them among the favourites.
Yet perhaps even more than being firmly back among the teams with a legitimate chance of winning the Champions League, signing Ronaldo would send an unavoidable message around the world. Looking back, it is difficult to see an example of them splashing out on a firmly-established elite player.
Many, including Gigi Buffon, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini and Roberto Baggio, became that while wearing the Bianconero jersey, Juve earning a well-deserved reputation for turning good players into great ones rather than simply buying the very best. In fact, in the post-war era at least, perhaps the only fully-fledged star brought to Turin was Gianluca Vialli, who joined from Sampdoria back in 1992 for a then-world record fee.
A deal for Cristiano Ronaldo will not be more expensive than those taking Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain, but it might well see him follow in Vialli’s footsteps and end Juventus’ wait for Champions League glory. Now that would be truly priceless, both on and off the field.