Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have cast aside the disappointment of another runner-up spot in the Ballon d’Or by letting his goals do the talking. With 30 in as many games in all competitions this season, the Portuguese striker has maintained an impressive goal per game average.
And, Ronaldo has begun 2013 in sparkling form. He struck twice in Madrid’s 4-3 win against Real Sociedad, hit a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey and grabbed another brace as Los Blancos destroyed Valencia 5-0 at the Mestalla last weekend.
Prolific as he has been, Real Madrid are having by some distance their worst campaign in recent memory and while Ronaldo’s goals have more often than not contributed to good Madrid performances, rarely have Los Blancos been on song in a game that he has not scored in. Tellingly, he missed the recent goalless draw with basement side Osasuna, by common consent one of Real Madrid’s most lacklustre performances of the season, when only the one shot on target was registered.
Madrid have won 12 games, drawn two and lost two when Ronaldo has scored this season. When he has failed to hit the target, Los Blancos have won three, drawn four and lost four. The latest draw, last night’s against Valencia in the Copa del Rey, saw a weakened and ill-disciplined Madrid side fail to win against a team they were expected to beat comfortably. Jose Mourinho’s side are far from being a one-man team, but their overall form has been inconsistent, and Ronaldo’s individual performances, his spark and creativity, have frequently been the difference.
Ronaldo’s season has played out against a background of his employers’ apparent refusal to offer him another contract on improved terms. The man himself has appeared sullen and won few new admirers when he pronounced himself ‘unhappy’ at the Bernabeu early in the season.
With uncertainty around his future amid some rumours of stalled contract talks and others of his refusal to sign a new deal, the Portuguese has inevitably been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu this coming summer. Cash-rich Paris Saint-Germain and former employers Manchester United are said to be at the head of the queue, though Ronaldo insists he will honour his present Bernabeu contract.
“I want to see out my contract at Real Madrid. I’m very clear about that,” Ronaldo told FIFA’s official website in an interview this week. “After that, I don’t know what’ll happen in the future.”
Many find it difficult to sympathise with Ronaldo, his often petulant persona betraying a man who complains and finds it hard to be content, in spite of a lifestyle the majority of his fans can only dream of. He has provoked the anger of opposition supporters throughout his career and professes not to understand why.
“I don’t know why,” said Ronaldo. “It’s something I’ve asked myself too. People who know me and those who’ve played alongside me know what kind of a guy I am. Those who don’t know me can say and think whatever they want. I’m able to respect those who criticise me, because I know they’ve got the wrong idea about me.”
For all his apparent flaws as a personality, Ronaldo’s abilities on the pitch are not in question. Consistently prolific throughout lengthy spells at both Old Trafford and the Bernabeu as well as for his country, his talent and star quality are proven. His suitors are waiting to take advantage of any irreversible breakdown in negotiations and, in their current plight, Real Madrid need Ronaldo more than he needs them. Give the man a new contract, Sr Perez. He scores goals. It’s what he’s paid to do.