Could it actually happen? Is Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and one of the greatest players the world has ever seen getting ready to leave Real Madrid after nine seasons and sign for Juventus of Italy?
Only minutes after Real Madrid won a third straight UEFA Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo stunned the soccer world with his past-tense comment that “it has been great being at Madrid.”
The rumor mill went into top gear, not for the first time, with Ronaldo being linked to the likes of PSG and Manchester United. But this was a movie we have seen before and it always finished with more money for Ronaldo and Real Madrid fawning over how he is irreplaceable and how he will be forever a Madridista.
A couple of days after the Champions League win over Liverpool I wrote a column arguing that Real Madrid fans should not worry as there were far more reasons why #CR7 would opt to stay than leave.
But things change and now I am not so sure that when the 2018/19 season kicks-off that Ronaldo will be wearing a Real Madrid strip.
Zinédine Zidane quit as Real Madrid manager a matter of days after guiding the team to a third straight Champions League (a remarkable achievement) and then the Spanish Tax Authority came out on top over a long-standing tax case that involved Ronaldo’s image-rights and the use of an offshore tax haven.
Over the last couple of weeks of June, the focus was firmly on the World Cup in Russia and initially, Ronaldo was hitting the headlines with a hat-trick against Spain in the opening game and the only goal of the game against Morocco.
Portugal made it through to the round of 16 but quicker than you can say “Edinson Cavani double,” Ronaldo and his teammates were out of the tournament and suddenly stories of a Ronaldo move to Juventus sprouted and rapidly gained traction.
Juventus has refused to confirm an interest in the player, let alone a bid, but the strategy of “no comment” has only served to fuel the expectations of Juve fans.
Here’s the latest on Ronaldo to Juventus. He wants to go, Juve optimistic about getting him and, Real? If he wants to go so desperately they will open the door. But ONLY for the right offer
Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) July 5, 2018
The stock market responded to the rumors with Juventus’ stock price rising over 20% over the last week (June 29 €0.66 to July 5 €0.82).
It is more than a little interesting that the share price should rise because one of the key questions is how can Juventus balance the books and sign Ronaldo?
Forbes recently pegged Ronaldo’s salary from Real Madrid at over $60m a year. Barcelona pays Lionel Messi over $20m more than that.
Surely, Ronaldo would be looking for Juventus to match Messi’s salary but that would increase the Italian team’s salary costs by 40% (from $200m per year to over $280m) and the Portugal star would be earning 12X the current Juventus average wage.
Based on a transfer fee of $120m and a four-year contract for the 33-year-old Ronaldo, Juventus’ bottom line would be hit with a $30m amortization charge.
Roll it all together and Juventus would be in for over $450m through to 2022.
Where would the money come from? Juventus would see some incremental revenue gains but the team consistently play to full houses and an increase in TV is unlikely in the short term. Even it did transpire the money would be shared with all the other Serie A teams.
The only viable avenue is to sell a player or more likely more than one. Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Dybala would generate the biggest transfer fees and the largest reduction in annual player costs.
Likewise, selling Ronaldo would set off a domino effect with the epicenter the Bernabeu Stadium. It is fully five years since Real Madrid set a then world record transfer fee for Gareth Bale.
President Florentino Perez’s check writing hand must be incredibly itchy and there is no doubt that Ronaldo’s transfer if it happens, will see a massive investment in a new star or stars.
Despite the common perception that Real Madrid spends money like sailors on shore leave the club is financially sound, financially disciplined and it works to a well-defined and tested plan.
Real Madrid will go after players with global marketability and with their best years still ahead. Linking Neymar to Real Madrid is not new and Kylian Mbappe can be added to that list. (Paris Saint-Germain’s dealings with UEFA and Financial Fair Play might yet come into play.)
Real Madrid could also raid the Premier League with Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) possible targets.
BREAKING: Real Madrid deny agreeing world-record transfer fee with PSG for Kylian Mbappe. #SSN pic.twitter.com/hNeuk7DVh2
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 4, 2018