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Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most talented players of his generation. If not for 3 time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, then Ronaldo; the most expensive player in history, would without doubt be the best.
One thing’s for sure, the Portuguese has certainly come a long way both as a man and as a player since he first arrived in rainy Manchester.
However, had Arsenal offered enough money, then Ronaldo would have ended up playing alongside the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires, a mouthwatering non existence which of course never came to fruition.
Madrid’s number seven (hence the CR7 nickname, even his nickname sounds like a machine) has scored 117 times in just 121 games since his departure from Manchester United with 33 in 35 in his first season, 54 in 53 last season and already 32 in 31 this season, a phenomenal record which not even the great Messi can live up to. Ronaldo scored ‘only’ 118 in 292 during his time at United, a notable difference in goals per game which I will delve into later on.
Ronaldo became synonymous with the stepover during his time at United, his flamboyant style of play made him sometimes look more like a freestyler than a professional footballer and in his first few seasons, his impact was limited as he struggled to find his feet on the bigger stage.
However, as we all know, he ended up becoming the best player in the world winning three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League trophy during his time there, whilst so far in three years at Madrid he only has the Copa Del Rey to show for his efforts. So was moving to Los Blancos the right decision?
Cristiano has developed into a very well oiled machine, the epitome of the word super human, he’s fast, strong, agile and has a great leap accompanied with attributes such as natural dribbling, brilliant finishing, and a solid passing range. You name it, Ronaldo’s got it. All these things make him a great all round player perfect for his left forward role at Madrid.
In fact as I’m writing this, he’s just scored a phenomenal long range effort for his sixth hat trick of the season, words just don’t do him justice. He’s probably the most athletic player of all time, a Utopian work of art. Imagine how good he would be playing alongside the likes of Xavi and Iniesta!
So how has Ronaldo gone from being a scrawny kid who Arsene Wenger once said “was never a natural goal scorer” when he was first scouted by the North London club, into being arguably the best finisher on the planet? Well it seems that whereas before it was style over substance for the forward, in some ways it has become substance over style.
During his time at United, he nearly always looked to beat his man with a piece of skill and often wowed the neutral with his long range shooting. At Madrid he is a more efficient player, more likely to use his pace to go past his man than a flashy trick. He also scores a lot of goals from close range which is testament to his improved off the ball movement, something which will become even more important for him in a few years time.
It does seem that Real Madrid has transformed Ronaldo from an egotistical artist with an array of skills only comparable to Ronaldinho, into an animal and despite the odd stepover or flick he does not dazzle the opposition like he used to. He works for the team and seems to have matured significantly since being under the command of compatriot Jose Mourinho.
He is still by far the main man at Madrid contributing in some way to the majority of their goals, I think the reduction in skills has made him more predictable as a winger but the position still allows him to run from deep to get on the end of crosses, something which he wouldn’t be able to do as effectively playing as the main striker.
So what does the future hold for him? Well, in my opinion, he will have to change his style of play once again when he starts to lose his pace and by working harder on some of the things that made him celebrated by fans in the first place (tricks, long range shooting, set pieces). We could see him operate centrally where he’d be able to utilise his other talents more effectively in a trequartista role. It certainly looks like he’ll win his first La Liga this year and possibly we’ll see a Ballon d’Or? I’d bank on him to hit 60 this year, honestly.
One thing’s for sure, CR7 is too good to be second best .
Why do you think he’s become so effective?