The Real-ity of Madrid
Should Manchester United back down from their very public position and enter negotiations with Real Madrid for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, here are a few things for the Portuguese to consider.
1) By courting Madrid he is pushing his value way down – he is ‘weakening’ United’s selling positon. Now, you may say, Ronaldo won’t care about that as long as he gets what he wants. But rumours of a £100m bid and £300k a week will be way off the mark. Real may have stated that they can afford any price (in which case I would be tempted to ask for £200m), and United won’t take Real rejects – expect an opening bid of £40m, rejected out of hand, probably negotiated up for around £44m. United are not renowned for selling players for big prices, so Ronaldo will suffer the indignation of not even being the world’s most expensive player.
2) Upon entering personal negotiations Real Madrid are unlikely to offer 300k – currently on £120k, you would imagine they would attempt to entice Ronaldo with £150k. Not exactly the biggest downfall when you’re a supposed humble multi-millionaire, but a stark contrast from the “dream” and reality. A trend that is only likely to continue.
3) Having agreed reduced personal terms, Ronaldo will be quick to learn that he won’t inherit the number 7 shirt he wears in iconic fashion for United and Portugal. Expect, now, his sponsors to step in – the CR7 Nike range has been carefully worked on for a while and Ronaldo will throw all that away because he is NOT Raul. If this latest jolt of reality doesn’t sour the dream, perhaps the discovery that van Nistelrooy wears 17 will. Now this would not be a problem if he is as humble as he says he is and he only wants to play for Madrid. But you would imagine now that he’s not feeling as wanted as he once was.
4) Upon presentation to the media a wonderful gala atmosphere will surround Cristiano for the first few days, but when the spark wears off, he will discover that Real fans hold Robinho in higher regard than him and were more fearful of Robinho’s departure than they were excited about Ronnie.
5) So, Ronaldo, sporting number 9 or 19 turns out for Real alongside Heinze, van Nistelrooy and Robben. Back at United, Rooney, Tevez and Scholes take to the field. Egos at Real, personalities at United. An ego in the shape of van Nistelrooy that was sacrificed at United to placate Ronaldo. The point being made here that the team he is joining is not the galacticos it once was, and that he will quickly find that the other players are not revolving around him. Expect much disdain when Robben horribly miscues another from 20 yards, expect arm flailing when van Nistelrooy fails to pull back a square ball into the box. But, again, he wants a new challenge. He’s certainly got that.
6) Playing devil’s advocate, let’s say Real win the league and United don’t. The lack of any real quality opposition makes it another La Liga canter for Real, and United, who had built such a wonderful footballing system, struggle to maintain the balance without Ronaldo. Both sides exit at Quarter Final stage in Europe. Ronaldo sees his move as a great success and wants adulation – but Real are looking at their next big project. Fabregas, Kaka, Messi – the last two of which they are willing to break the bank for. Cracks will appear among Robben, Robinho, Ronaldo and van Nistelrooy – Real quickly address the need for at least 2 or 3 massive players to return to the “Galactico days”.
7) A move for Messi will see mass revolt from the Catalans but the little Argentine refuses to court it. He’s happy at Barcelona. Real Madrid however dangle the carrots and amid rumours of a £180m buyout in Messi’s contract, offer Barcelona a record fee of £96.4 million. Barca take the money, Madrid buy the player now regarded as the best in the world for a fee that properly reflects it (think how they did this with Zidane, a year after they flirted with Figo). Ronaldo and Messi co-exist in the same side but Messi is always seen as “the better one”.
Conclusion – Aside from the speculatory end, this is a realistic and time honoured process that players who leave Old Trafford or join Real Madrid go through.
Should we be forced into letting Ronaldo go (though I can’t see how we can be, no means no) then fellow fans should start to hear the alarm bells ringing – the situation would be likely to repeat itself with Nani, and possibly Anderson (though the Brazilian has made all the right noises so far, and is likely to be the next major component in United’s systems).
Stay, Ronaldo, and become a true legend of the club, and British game.
Leave and become another pawn in the (admittedly, glamorous) game of Real Madrid.
The saga has gone way too far and I think that this will be my last word on the matter.