Consider this for one moment. You have a 32-year-old attacker in your side, who will turn 33 in the following season. He’s your top scorer, but you’re now managing his game time to ensure he is kept in peak condition. The fee being discussed to buy him would be a world-record transfer fee. Would you sell him? Of course you would. It wouldn't even cross your mind not to. Not even a doubt.
But this isn't just any 32-year-old attacker. It’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Arguably the greatest player of his generation. The mere mentioning of his name puts doubt in your mind. A world-record fee? Yes please. But it's Ronaldo, and he scores goals. Lots of them.
One thing is for sure, should Real Madrid decide to sell – there are certainly plenty of options available to replace him. There’s been talk of Kylian Mbappe. That in itself could be a world-record transfer fee. Mbappe is certainly the new kid on the block, in terms of potential footballing superstardom.
Blessed with incredible pace and a real footballing brain, the teenager is a fantastic talent. He burst on to the scene last season, scoring 15 League goals as he helped Monaco to the French title. Effectively, Madrid could sell Ronaldo this summer and sign Mbappe for similar fees.
Other names such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eden Hazard have also been linked. Aubameyang scored an impressive 31 League goals last season for Borussia Dortmund in Germany, whereas Hazard netted 16 on the way to helping Chelsea to win the Premier League. There are other players who could be available; Sergio Aguero at Manchester City is another potential option. If Los Blancos were to sign any one of those players and add them to their current squad, they would still have an attack to blow away most in Europe. Even without Ronaldo.
Marco Asensio, Isco, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale all remain on Madrid’s books. You could see these players having to take more responsibility in a post-Ronaldo team. They would need to increase their goal returns of last season for sure, given they only scored 31 La Liga goals between them, but the capacity to do so is there.
This is not taking into account the contributions of James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata, whose futures are unclear. However, you couldn't see Madrid selling them both, on top of Ronaldo. Furthermore, they added 23 League goals to Los Merengues’ cause last term, even more impressive when you consider they only started 27 games between them.
Ronaldo did score nearly a quarter of all Madrid’s La Liga goals for the campaign just gone. He also scored 12 goals as they defended the Champions League, in turn becoming the first club of the modern era to pull off such a feat.
But relying so heavily on one man to score all your goals can’t go on forever.
At some point , Madrid will have to cross that bridge. Ronaldo is not Peter Pan. Age is, in theory, only a number, but even Ronaldo isn’t eternal. There’s a saying in football that no-one is bigger than the club, and never is that saying truer when the club is Real Madrid. And there are goals elsewhere in this team.
It’s a gamble, for sure, and a step into the unknown. None of the other players mentioned here match Ronaldo’s individual brilliance, but collectively, even without the Portuguese, Madrid still boast an impressive array of talent. They’ll certainly be okay.
The job of having to replace the No 7 is certainly a daunting one, but not impossible. The chance of banking such a fee is surely tempting. It took a then-world record to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu in the first place. For them to possibly receive another record fee eight years and 407 goals later would be incredible business.
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