He couldn’t, could he? Could Ronaldo really leave Real Madrid for Juventus? We know talks are ongoing. We know Ronaldo is unsettled. But he couldn’t, could he?
Lothar Matthaus can’t see it happening. Like so many others, he just can’t get his head around it: why would the five-time Ballon d’Or winner move to Serie A?
“I don’t believe it, and I still think he will stay at Madrid,” the former Inter midfielder told the Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday.
“He plays for the best club in the world, with whom he has won everything. I can’t see it because why would he go to Juve? The Italian league is not like it was in my day.
“I recognise that there have been signs of a revival, that Italy is growing. Last season their teams did well in the Champions League and the Europa League, but they still haven’t reached the level of the Spanish and English sides.”
He would be feted as a god; the saviour of Serie A. He would receive the respect and reverence that he feels he has been often denied in Spain.
Money is obviously also a major factor but Ronaldo wasn’t just being paying lip service to Juventus fans when he thanked them for affording him a standing ovation after his spectacular overhead kick in Turin in March. He was genuinely touched by the collective show of sportsmanship.
“To receive an ovation from the stadium with so much history, is a unique experience,” he told Madrid’s official YouTube channel.
“When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have applauded me will stay with me.”
He had never forgotten how hard they tried to sign him from Sporting as a teenager either. It was a done deal. He had agreed to join Juve as an 18-year-old but Marcelo Salas’ refusal to move in the opposite direction scuppered the transfer.
Now, though, he could belatedly join the Bianconeri. It would be as sensational as it would be shocking. For the first time in a decade, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner would be playing in Serie A.
That would be a truly remarkable development, given the Italian game’s money problems in recent years. Only this summer, AC Milan have been banned from competing in Europe for breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Juve, by contrast, are one of the best-run clubs in European football. Prudence, though, has been pivotal to their re-emergence as a major force. In addition, they were already looking at posting a loss in revenue for 2018, so why, then, are they sanctioning a €340 million package to sign a 33-year-old?
Because they, along with parent company Exor-Fiat, believe Ronaldo would be worth it, from both a sporting and financial perspective. Indeed, Exor-Fiat intend to sweeten the deal for Ronaldo with a variety of lucrative sponsorship deals related to their business empire.