It’s happening. Cristiano Ronaldo is almost certainly moving to Juventus after nine seasons at Real Madrid.
Ronaldo’s move to Santiago Bernabeu in 2009 broke the transfer record and inflated fees paid for other players around the world.
More importantly, his performances and competitiveness created possibly the greatest individual football rivalry ever – with Lionel Messi – that resulted in the collapse of most of the goal-scoring records in Europe. The last decade will go down the history as the era of Ronaldo and Messi.
On top of that, his tenure at Real Madrid not only led the club to finally defending a Champions League trophy for the first-time-ever but went one better, making it three in a row earlier this year.
Ronaldo’s arrival at the Bernabeu shook football up. However, his departure now will have a massive impact on the game too. RealSport have looked at the potential implications of the imminent transfer.
Maths is easy for Florentino Perez. If one star is leaving Los Blancos, one must come in to replace him.
With Ronaldo on the way out, clubs across Europe will start to jitter fearing to lose their biggest stars. Especially knowing what kind of leverage comes simply because it’s Real Madrid knocking.
From the second the Ronaldo move is done and dusted, Perez will begin his hunt. Where will he look first? Taking into consideration that the Eden Hazard saga has been on for a few seasons now, Stamford Bridge would be the first guess.
Looking at his performance in Russia, where he will fight on Tuesday for a spot in the World Cup final with Belgium, Hazard also seems well aware of it. On top of that, Hazard has been clear since his time at Lille that his dream is to play for Real one day.
But he's not alone: as a youngster, Kylian Mbappe had a room completely covered with… Cristiano Ronaldo posters.
It’s also not difficult to imagine Neymar, recalling the circumstances in which he left Barcelona, fancying the glory and the fame that filling the void after Ronaldo would bring.
Fees and the market
Massive transfer moves immediately impact prices in the transfer market. We saw that when Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United. We saw that when Neymar signed for Barcelona.
Similarly, Ronaldo’s move to Italy, which is said to be in the region of £90 million, will have an effect on the flow of money in football this summer.
This sort of money has seldom been paid for a player in his 30s. Of the top 50 most expensive football transfers, only Diego Costa is approaching that age and he only turns 30 in October.
However, Costa set Atletico Madrid back around half of the fee Juventus will reportedly pay for Ronaldo. The Italian giants may set a very dangerous precedent.
Considering that the transfer window closes on August 9th this year, this will just boost the Ronaldo effect. Less time for making transfer moves mean clubs will be more desperate to wrap deals up. And this will make everything pricier.
Shift of power
In recent seasons, Real Madrid have definitely been less Ronaldo-dependant. Luka Modric, Isco, Marco Asensio or even Gareth Bale – all of them have gradually been taking more responsibility on their shoulders as the ageing Ronaldo wasn’t always capable of solely carrying the team as he used to.
However, Ronaldo was always there delivering in crucial moments – and that played a huge role in Madrid’s historic Champions League run of three in three.
Although Real couldn’t compete with Barcelona in a long La Liga campaign last season, they were capable of pulling it off in the less frequent Champions League battles: defining moments Ronaldo always looked forward to and shone in.
Now that he’s gone, the Spanish club will have to restructure, fit in the new stars and might have to sideline some of them, likely resulting in a shift of power in Europe.
This could give other clubs the chance to claw the Champions League trophy back from Madrid’s grasp. Ironically, Ronaldo and Co. were Juventus’ nemesis in the Champions League recently. With him on board, then, the Italians surely rub their hands gleefully.
Change of guard
It’s clear that Ronaldo’s age plays a crucial role in his Real Madrid exit. It’s the last call for the club to make money on him. It’s also the last chance for Ronaldo to change environment and look for competition elsewhere before finding somewhere to retire in MLS.
This signals a changing of guard. At Real Madrid, young stars will come to the fore now that their leader’s gone.
Portugal's main man will have to adapt to a significantly different league and, if taking too much time, that could give an edge to somebody else – especially considering the surprising World Cup results this year.
In Europe, Ronaldo changing his club could also boost the chances of other players to claim the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo’s departure from La Liga basically brings his rivalry with Lionel Messi to an end.
As a result, the Spanish league will not be known as a battleground for the pair anymore. It will also become more difficult to compare their achievements, something that has excited the pundits for 10 years, because of the differences between the league.
Juventus dominance will only grow
Juventus have won the Serie A for seven years in a row now – a record tied only with Lyon between 2002 and 2008. If La Liga has been considered a two-horse race, the Italian league clearly has only one favourite every year.
It looked that Napoli could have stopped Juventus last year. They kicked off the season with a 14-game winning streak and later went on to record a 10-game winning run halted by Roma in March.
It was late in the season that Juventus went passed Napoli in the league table and they didn’t give the lead away till the end.
The gap that seemed to be closing between Juventus and the rest of the league, though, will only widen now one of the best footballers in history could pull on the Bianconeri shirt.
Although Ronaldo can no longer lead a team to glory single-handedly anymore, he won’t have to in Turin. The team is short of being complete even without Ronaldo.
However, the effectiveness, experience and those moments of genius he can bring to the club will make them unstoppable in the league.
Perhaps in Europe, too.
What do you think? Will Ronaldo's transfer change European football? Let us know by commenting below.