Cristiano Ronaldo remains one of the biggest football players in the world at the moment, despite having turned 35 years old and being in the twilight of his career. The Portuguese forward may not be as dynamic and thrilling a player as he was when he first burst onto the scene, but he has evolved and changed his game to become a deadly penalty-box poacher in front of goal, and has continued to rack up the goals in Italy since moving to Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 for a £100 million fee. However, if rumours are to be believed, the Turin giants are ready to move on from the superstar and are looking for someone to take him off their hands next summer.
Ronaldo’s contract expires in June 2022, which means that Juventus only have the upcoming winter and summer transfer windows in which they can look to sell him and recoup a fee of some sort, since he will be able to walk away on a free transfer when his contract expires.
The biggest issue with keeping Cristiano Ronaldo around is his wage – he earns £540,000 per week, which is almost four times as much as the next highest earner at the club, Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt. Spending that sort of money on a declining 35-year-old is not the best use of resources, even for a wealthy club like Juventus, and it is even more problematic in the current scenario, where the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a hammer to finances all over the world. With fans not being allowed to attend games, clubs are losing out on matchday revenue, as well as commercial and sponsorship income, which is putting a strain on their balance sheets like never before.
Even while some clubs are looking at alternative ways to raise money, that is not proving to be enough. Juventus, for example, announced a new deal with Parimatch in September, for the company to create unique digital and online experiences for Juventus fans, both in the stadium and on the internet. Of course, Parimatch is also a digital technology and betting firm, and can lend that expertise to Juventus, much like other online gambling firms which have also begun to look at football as a lucrative partnership and add football themed slots to the list of the best games, given its popularity across the world. Nevertheless, such deals are nowhere near close enough to fill the gap that is being felt due to the loss of sponsorship, commercial and matchday income, and so clubs will have to consider letting go of highly-paid stars to try and balance the books.
Ronaldo has scored 71 goals in 94 games for Juventus so far, which is a superb strike rate, but he was brought in to deliver the Champions League to the Allianz Stadium, and the club have not come close to succeeding there, going out in the quarter-final and round of 16 since his arrival. Thus, there are some who are beginning to question the sporting merit of keeping him around as well, arguing that new coach Andrea Pirlo would be better off by being given the funds from Ronaldo’s sale to invest in the squad and build a better all-round unit, rather than one that is so reliant on Ronaldo.
Juventus have struggled to score goals when Ronaldo has been absent from the lineup for any reason, and his presence drags the team’s play through him, leading other attackers such as Paulo Dybala to be marginalized and playing below their best. It remains to be seen if any club takes the bait and brings Ronaldo in for what is certain to be his last big club deal, with Paris Saint-Germain and former club Manchester United being linked with him in the latest rumours.