Cristiano Ronaldo says he has an imminent announcement to make which have fuelled retirement talks, following his latest Champions League triumph with Real Madrid on Saturday.
Is Ronaldo going to stay? Is he going to leaving Real Madrid? Or is he going to retire altogether?
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo collected his fifth Champions League medal on Saturday night, after Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1 in the final in Kiev. But after getting his medal, the Portuguese captain made a cryptic statement about his future; he spoke in past tense about his time with the Bernabeu side, despite him being contracted to the club for another three years, until the summer of 2021.
“It was beautiful to be at Real Madrid,” said the 33-year-old, before going on to highlight that he plans to release a statement imminently.
“I spoke when I shouldn’t have done but something is going to happen. It wasn’t the right time, but I was honest. In a week I’ll say something because the fans have always supported me and are in my heart. I don’t speak much, but when I speak, I speak. Obviously I have something to say, but it wasn’t the right time, although I don’t regret it, because I was honest. I’ve kept putting up with this but then I couldn’t control myself.”
Some online sportsbooks in Spain view this as a tactical move in his contract negotiations in efforts to get an even bigger deal than the one that he’s currently on – it’s believed Ronaldo is on more than €400,000 per week, which translates to over €20m on a yearly basis. However, the Portuguese forward has dismissed these rumours by insisting it’s not about the money, as that department is well covered considering his already massive earnings.
“This has been coming for a long time. Money is not the problem. I’ve won five Champions Leagues, five Ballon d’Ors. I was already in history but now even more. I’m not bothered because I know what I give to this club. I don’t want to erase this unique moment with my team-mates who are real champions.”
Is it time for Ronaldo to move on, despite still being an imposing force?
Ronaldo was recently criticized for his comments that the Champions League should be renamed in his honor, after his goalscoring exploits and overall achievements in the respective competition. “CR7 Champions League” is what the Portuguese suggested as the new name to commemorate him being the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer with 120 strikes and the most decorated Champions League player (in the new era) with five trophies (2008, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018).
During his six-year stay with Manchester United, Ronaldo scored 16 Champions League goals in total, but once he switched to Real Madrid in 2009 for a then world record fee of €94 million, he really started to record impressive figures in the competition season after season, online sportsbook news report. The 2013/14 campaign was the most productive for the Portuguese, as he scored an unprecedented 17 goals then – a record that hasn’t been broken in the meantime but had been almost equaled by none other than Ronaldo himself, as he bagged 16 in 2015/16 and 15 goals in this year’s season as well.
Between 2010 and 2016, the forward has found the back of the net more than 50 times overall in each of the seasons, but his goalscoring numbers have started dwindling in the past two seasons, although they’re still very high. Ronaldo scored 42 and 44 goals across all competitions in 2016/17 and 2017/18 respectively, so his decline is visible albeit it at a much slower rate than normal players at his age.
In February, he turned 33 years of age so it remains a question how much longer he can keep up the rigorous regime of a world class player, despite his perceived total discipline to the sport that has seen him outperform almost every other player he has faced so far.
If Ronaldo were to retire it would be a fitting goodbye, having won the biggest club trophy – his fifth overall – in his final club game. But if he were to leave for new shores just to cash in on his name, it would be somewhat shameful to see a player of his stature go down a level when he can continue playing on the biggest stage for a few more seasons.