The weekly social media post published this season by Cristiano Ronaldo usually depicts the soccer superstar half-dressed, bulking up muscles, or working out Or promoting one of its many brands.
Staying relevant and highly visible is obviously very important for a player who, along with Lionel Messi, is the greatest player of his generation. That too extends to the last years of his career on the field.
Which is why, for 37-year-old Ronaldo, playing for Manchester United – still one of the most famous sports teams in the world, despite a recent trophy drought – just isn’t enough. He wants to compete on the biggest stage, while he wants to win the biggest trophies he can.
Hence the current standoff with United, which is becoming more damaging and disruptive as the days pass and the new season begins.
In public, Ronaldo has not yet returned to pre-season training with the English club, as it has been described for “personal reasons”. It is expected, recently that United manager Eric ten Haag has reiterated on an almost daily basis, that Ronaldo will return before the Premier League starts and be a key member of the team.
Reality, it seems, is different. Ronaldo reportedly wants out at Old Trafford after just one season, with United no longer in shape to compete in the Champions League or in England with the best teams like Manchester City and Liverpool. United finished sixth last season, 35 points behind first-place City.
So, while the rest of the United team tour Thailand and Australia, match-sharp and ten Haig and their ways are becoming familiar, Ronaldo is back home in Portugal with his family, while his agent, Jorge Mendes Shop around, looking for a new club for your most famous customer.
Currently there are no buyers.
And the Premier League season starts in about two weeks.
United midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who plays with Ronaldo for Portugal, said: “I don’t know what Cristiano told the club and the manager.” “I don’t know what’s going through his mind, if he wants to leave. I didn’t ask him that.
Fernandes said, “From what we know, he had some family problems, so we have to respect his space, give him some space and that’s it. All I asked was if Cristiano didn’t come with the family.” Everything is fine. He told me what was going on, that’s all and nothing more.”
On the face of it, United still want to keep Ronaldo – he was the team’s top scorer last season with 24 goals and has returned to being the club’s poster boy for the marketing department – and ten Haag has called the striker ” extremely important” along with being “not for sale”.
But why would other top clubs go cold on a player who is still a guaranteed source of goals, and revenue for that matter?
Goals may be the goal of the game but they are not necessary for the modern-day coach. A certain level of dynamism and the ability to be part of a team’s pressure game also matters a lot, and Ronaldo doesn’t offer that, even if he remains a supremely athletic player with that uncanny knack of surviving the penalty area. And scoring from anywhere. The composition of a team must change to accommodate a player like an aging Ronaldo, cover his shortcomings and make him the focal point.
In short, his presence requires compromise. He is a problem and a solution.
Maybe, if he ends up staying at United, Ten Hag could come up with a system in which Ronaldo flourishes and the players around him can cover for him and steer the team in an efficient manner. can do. that’s easier said than done.
Thomas Tuchel – the kind of coach who values a team over an individual – clearly thought this was not possible, given his Chelsea team, Mendes spoke clearly to. There was also a big hole in Chelsea’s forward line with Romelu Lukaku returning to Inter Milan.
Bayern Munich are another team that has turned down the opportunity to sign Ronaldo. There was also no desire from Real Madrid or Juventus for him to return.
Ronaldo’s salary demands are likely knocking out most other clubs competing in this season’s Champions League, a competition in which he is the record scorer with 141 goals – 16 more than Messi – and for which he lives.
This leaves Ronaldo in a strange place. Still one of the greatest scorers in soccer but a player unwanted by the best teams.
So what comes next? An uneasy clash with United and a return to a team that plays in the Europa League and looks unlikely to be in the race for the Premier League title? Or could Mendes take a blockbuster move out of the bag, as he did last year when Ronaldo made a sensational return to England?
For his brand and his legacy, Ronaldo wants the latter, which has become a nostalgic project without a happy ending.
And deep down, he may even be in line with ten hugs, allowing him to start rebuilding work at United with a clean slate.
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