On May 24th, Cristiano Ronaldo posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the haul of team trophies he has won with Juventus as well as various personal accolades, with the caption: “With these achievements, I reached a goal that I set myself since the first day I arrived in Italy.”
Now, Ronaldo’s never been one to shy away from the limelight and depending on how you feel about him, you would either describe him as supremely confident or somewhat vain. With this in mind, it’s easy to file his social media post under ‘Ronaldo reminds us once again what an extraordinary footballer he is.’
Or, perhaps, this was a way of bidding farewell to Juventus and his three-year stay in Turin.
This does of course coincide with his future at Juventus being up in the air, which naturally leads to more questions around whether he could leave in the summer. It should be said that this is a conversation that has taken place every summer since Ronaldo became a global superstar. Only the truth is that Ronaldo’s time in Turin is almost up with his contract due to expire in 2022.
With this in mind, how will the world look back on his stay in Italy? Will he be remembered as one of the Juve greats?
The one that got away
Of course, for any other mere mortal, winning the Scudetto, the Italian Cup, the Italian Super Cup, and the Golden Boot would be considered one of the most distinguished achievements in the game. But then one would be forgetting that during Ronaldo’s unveiling to Juve the fans in 2018, they all chanted in unison for Ronaldo to bring them the Champions League. Indeed, this was the very reason that Juventus had broken the bank to land the five-time Ballon d’Or winner but with just a year left on his contract, the 36-year-old is yet to climb to the summit of European club football with Juventus.
Yes, Ronaldo has won all there is to win domestically with Juventus, but the inescapable truth is that the club were comfortably winning those trophies before he arrived. They desperately needed Ronaldo to drag them over the line as he had done for Real Madrid for so many years while they dominated the Champions League and ended up winning three titles in a row.
It’s not a surprise that Los Blancos haven’t been able to win the Champions League either since Ronaldo left Madrid in 2018, as reported by ESPN at the time. Interestingly, however, with a possible Champions League ban hanging over both clubs, it may be a while before either the Spanish or Italian giants taste success in this competition again.
Indeed, it is quite conceivable to think that Ronaldo may have already won his last Champions League, so where does the motivation lie for one of the greatest players to have played the game? Is that hunger still there?
The evergreen Ronaldo
One could say categorically that it is and remarkably, at the age of 36, he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Indeed, the superhuman Nike athlete from Portugal intends to play in the 2022 World Cup and has publicly stated his desire to win it. That is the one trophy that has escaped Ronaldo’s grasp so you can imagine that he does keep playing at the highest level before making the journey to Qatar with Portugal. But first, the Madeira-born winger will be tasked with helping his country retain their Euro Championship this summer.
Portugal are, of course, the defending champions and, as of June 7th, have been priced at 10.00 by Betway to win the Euros, so there’s a good chance that Fernando Santos’ men can go deep into the tournament, enabling Ronaldo to get within touching distance of back-to-back Euro Championships. Should Portugal be able to do so, you can only imagine how frustrated those that pay Ronaldo the second-highest wage in world football will be after seeing him seemingly deliver for everyone one but them.
Indeed, sadly for those in power at the Allianz Arena on the outskirts of Turin, their eye-watering investment in Ronaldo hasn’t paid off so far and time is running out. Juventus’ 25-year wait for Champions League glory will of course go on but all hope is not lost just yet, even if it is in incredibly short supply.
It really is the last chance saloon for Juventus and the Portuguese superstar, but with twelve months left on his deal, there is still time for Ronaldo to enjoy one last dance with the Old Lady of Italian football.