Italian champions Juventus have signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in a deal worth £99.2m.
The Portuguese superstar is arguably the most famous footballer on the planet, with five Ballon d’Or awards and five Champions League wins to his name.
But the former Manchester United winger is now 33 years of age and, after nine seasons in Spain, Real Madrid were prepared to let their prize asset leave, so does the deal make sense?
What Ronaldo, Real and Juve say
In an open letter, Ronaldo said he hoped Real Madrid fans understood his decision to leave. He wrote: “I believe that the time has come to begin a new stage in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept my transfer request. I feel that way and I ask everyone, and especially our followers, to please understand.
“Real Madrid has conquered my heart, and that of my family, and that is why more than ever I want to say thank you. I’m leaving but this shirt, this crest and the Santiago Bernabeu will continue to always feel as my own wherever I am.”
In a statement, the Spanish club said: “Real Madrid would like to place on record its thanks to a player who has shown himself to be the best in the world and made his mark on one of the greatest periods in our club’s history and on the world game. Apart from the titles he has lifted, the honors secured and the on-field achievements during these nine years, Cristiano Ronaldo has been a role model in terms of commitment, hard work, responsibility, talent and self-improvement.”
Meanwhile, Juve celebrated the signing of the Portugal striker. The Italian club said: “He’s called Cristiano Ronaldo and he’s now officially a Bianconero! Juventus are delighted to announce that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has signed for the club on a four-year contract until 30 June 2022.”
Does Ronaldo still have what it takes?
He may be getting on but the deal makes Ronaldo the fourth most expensive footballer of all time, and almost triples the record fee for a player in his 30s.
The Portuguese recently boasted that he has a biological age of 23 and intends to play for many years to come. Ronaldo’s numbers are eye-watering and if he can maintain that form in Italy then Juventus’s stranglehold on Italian football looks set to continue and the £99m will be money well spent.
“Ronaldo leaves Madrid as the club’s all-time leading scorer, with 450 goals in 438 games. He also won the Champions League four times, three Fifa Club World Cups and two La Liga titles, as well as the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup twice apiece,” says ESPN.
This calendar year his goals have come every 70 minutes, he has been the top scorer in the Champions League for each of the past six seasons, and during his nine seasons in La Liga he scored 311 goals, notes the broadcaster.
He also scored a hat-trick for Portugal in the World Cup and netted a spectacular bicycle kick against Juventus in the Champions League in the spring.
Will it be worth it for Juventus?
Never mind his impact on the pitch, Ronaldo’s arrival is likely to have a huge effect on the club’s global brand.
Journalist Guillem Balague tells Sky Sports that the four-year deal could end up costing Juventus €400m (£354m) but notes that in the two days leading up to the deal the club’s stock market value rose by 20%. “That explains one reason why they want him,” he says.
Football finance expert Rob Wilson, of Sheffield Hallam University, agrees. He tells the BBC: “Even at about £100m the marketing leverage that Juventus will be able to create will be significant. Added to that the likelihood that he will strengthen the team, it seems plausible that they will be more successful domestically and qualify routinely for the Champions League. That means more sponsors, more TV money and more prize money.”
The deal also fits in with the Italian club’s efforts to re-establish its reputation in an era of Premier League and La Liga dominance.
“On the surface that might seem like an impossible indulgence for a club that is expected to report a small loss on its accounts for the past season. The reality might be the exact opposite,” says Paolo Bandini of The Guardian.
“For all their impressive growth in recent years, the concern for Juventus has always been that they would be limited by the simple fact of competing in a league whose international brand continues to lag behind those of La Liga and the Premier League… The signing of Ronaldo is designed to change that.”
What’s in it for Ronaldo?
Ronaldo has flirted with other clubs before, but usually to force a better contract offer from Real Madrid. This time he has elected to leave. However, he will be paid €30m (£26.5m) a year in Turin.
“Ronaldo leaves Madrid a legend, the club’s record goalscorer and one of their greatest players, as well as one of the most decorated,” says Luke Edwards of The Daily Telegraph.
“The timing, though, does make sense, with some supporters tired of his perceived selfishness and constant desire to be the center of attention. The team is also in need of a rebuild.”
At Juventus there is the prospect of plenty more silverware too, notes Sky Sports. “Ronaldo would be confident of adding to his vast trophy collection at Juventus,” Sky reports. “The Old Lady are totally dominant in Italian football having won seven consecutive Serie A titles and four consecutive league and cup doubles.
“Juventus have not won the Champions League since the 1995/96 season, but they have reached two finals in the last five years. With Ronaldo on their side instead of standing in their way, they would fancy their chances of going one better.”
What now for Madrid?
Ronaldo’s departure could spark a transfer scramble this summer as the Spanish giants look for a replacement and Juventus could be forced to offload some stars of their own to accommodate their new signing.
“Real will be seeking to fill the void. And when they do, the knock-on effects will likely be felt all around Europe,” says ABC.
It speculates that Ronaldo’s departure could clear the way for Neymar, who is reportedly unhappy after his £200m move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
Other big names in the frame are Kylian Mbappe, who is also at PSG, and Premier League stars including Harry Kane of Spurs and Eden Hazard of Chelsea.
“Most transfers won’t be confirmed or even suggested until after the business on the pitch is completed in Russia,” says ABC.