Ronaldo is one of the best footballers of all time. It’s indisputable. While Messi, Pele and Maradona are three players who could take the accolade as the best ever, he definitely has a claim to that honor. However, as he moves into the twilight years of his career, some questions are starting to be asked, and one of these is whether he is sacrificing the team for himself.
Issues at Juventus
When Ronaldo first made the move to Juventus, sports betting sites went crazy at the prospect of him leading them to a Champion’s League. However, things didn’t quite go as planned. While he did manage to win the league with Juventus, and finished top scorer in Italy, Europe’s top prize eluded the Old Lady. Things went much worse in his final season there as Juventus lost their grip on Serie A. However, Ronaldo still managed to put up good numbers in terms of goal scoring. So, he escaped a lot of the blame.
Not everyone was of this opinion though. While no-one managed to score as many goals as Ronaldo did individually at Juventus, in the seasons before his arrival the goals were spread out through the team at a higher level. When Ronaldo arrived, the way the team was set up changed to become the Ronaldo show. While he scored more goals than anyone else had managed, he was taking goals away from other areas of the team. It was almost as though for every 1 goal he scored, the team would have scored 1.5 in previous seasons.
It was this that eventually allowed Juventus to happily move him on, just as they had moved on other players previously in order to bring him in.
Return to Manchester United
Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United was almost written in the stars. Although he reportedly had a brief flirtation with Man City, it was never really in doubt where he would be returning. A team that finished second the previous season added one of their best ever players to the team. Along with the signing of Varane, it was expected that United would compete for the title over the course of the season.
This belief could not have been more wrong. United have struggled to maintain form for a number of reasons. Part of the finger of blame has been laid at Ronaldo’s feet. Many feel that he has upset the balance of the side. He has still managed to record excellent numbers over the course of the season, although there was a goal drought for a while. But, this has come at the expense of the team.
During the start of the season, United played some games without Ronaldo. In these games, Man United managed to record a higher goal scored per game rate and a lower goals conceded per game rate than with Ronaldo. It shows that while he himself is scoring goals, the team isn’t scoring as many. More crucially, it also concedes more with him in the side.
This is an example of what caused things to go so wrong for him at Juventus. His desire for the setup of the team to revolve around him means that other areas of the side suffer. Ironically, if he had chosen to move to Man City, this wouldn’t have been too much of a problem. As City have a stronger squad than United, they would have been able to handle the deficiencies that Ronaldo has. With United having a much weaker midfield, they’re not able to carry a striker who doesn’t engage with a high press.
Will he remain?
This is the biggest question that lingers over Ronaldo at the moment. Will he stay at the club? Without knowing who the manager will be next season, it’s hard to know if he will. What could help him to stay is Man United investing in their midfield. A player such as Ruben Neves would offer more stability in the middle, the ability to play a killer pass which Ronaldo would thrive on and he is also Portuguese. A manager who knows how to play to his strengths along with a signing of this nature could see Ronaldo extending his return to Manchester.
However, unless Man United learn how to get the most out of Ronaldo without it being detrimental to the team it’s not likely he will stay. Or, if he does stay then it will continue to be a story of personal success costing United a return to the top of the table.