Real Madrid may be receiving a reported €112m from Juventus for Cristiano Ronaldo, thereby making a profit after paying Manchester United €94m to sign him back in 2009, but losing a player of his calibre is a blow to the Champions League holders. The influence of the Portuguese forward during his nine-year stay can’t be understated as he transformed himself from a skilful winger to a world-class presence up front. His goalscoring rate a Madrid was sensational – 450 goals in 438 appearances.
Yet his departure could be a opportunity for Los Blancos to reinvent themselves under new Coach Julen Lopetegui. The Spaniard’s preferred tactics while coaching the Spanish national team, as well as his previous club role at Porto, was an attacking 4-3-3. The likely benefactor from Lopetegui’s arrival for the new season – which you can prepare for with these Spanish betting sites – will be Isco. The 26-year-old flourished wonderfully under Lopetegui during the World Cup qualifier and could break new ground, despite already turning out good performances for Madrid with Zinedine Zidane at the helm.
One key question is who will step up to replace Ronaldo’s goals? The fabled BBC – Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo – is crumbling, with Ronaldo leaving, Benzema wanted by Napoli and Bale seeking minutes, which might lead to a summer exit. Creativity is assured from the wings from Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez, control is applied through the middle by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, so just who will take the mantle Ronaldo left behind?
Madrid may have two of Brazil's exciting young talents arriving in the next year, namely Flamengo’s Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo of Santos, but their long-term contracts signify they are ones for the future. Vinicius arrived at Madrid this month, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the media attention after his new club paid €45m for him at the age of just 17. Rodrygo, meanwhile, will arrive once he turns 18 on January 9.
The next six weeks of the transfer window will be inundated with rumours and counter-claims of players who might replace Cristiano Ronaldo. Alas, his departure does mean players can step up now the shadow of Ronaldo has gone. That doesn’t diminish the fact Ronaldo will be missed by fans, players and officials but one man, however great they may be, is not bigger than the club. It could be that Bale might take the responsibility of replacing Ronaldo, but it’ll be no less of a challenge for him to fill the Ronaldo-sized hole.
It’s part of several interesting subplots building up to the 2018-19 edition of La Liga. Can Barcelona defend their title, will Atletico Madrid sustain a title challenge after a successful transfer window and how will both Vinicius and Rodrygo cope in their first season in Europe?
If Real Madrid do well next season then Ronaldo will be a afterthought. Yet if Los Merengues struggle in the League like last season then his name will be chanted at the Santiago Bernabeu – an ode to a player who has done so much for the club but is no longer there to pull them out of the fire.
Only then will we see if they sink or swim.