The Ronaldo experiment may not have been the right way to go

The Ronaldo experiment may not have been the right way to go

Yes, I know what I’m getting into with this article.

I will start by saying that this piece has nothing to do with the merits of Cristiano Ronaldo as a player. He’s one of the best players to ever put on shin guards. He’s a freakin’ alien. We all know this.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean signing him was the best thing for Juventus. THIS is what we’re going to be dealing with today.

Buried under all the jubilation of Ronaldo’s arrival in 2018 was the fact that Juventus President Andrea Agnelli was taking a massive gamble. It was an attempt not just to push Juve over the last hump and get them the Champions League title they haven’t gotten since 1996, but to put the finishing touches on a long-simmering brand-building operation that, it was hoped, would push Juve firmly into the financial realm of the Real Madrids, Barcelonas, Bayern Munichs, and Manchester Uniteds of the world. Agnelli was banking on Ronaldo being the fuel to rocket Juve up from 1A to 1.

We’re halfway through Ronaldo’s four-year contract in Turin, and if you strip everything away, the cold reality of things is that it’s looking like Agnelli may have gone in the wrong direction two summers ago.

First off, I don’t think it’s remotely arguable anymore that the justification for signing Ronaldo — at least from a sporting perspective — was fundamentally flawed. At the time it was thought that Ronaldo would be the last piece of the puzzle for a team that had been to two Champions League finals in four years and had been seconds (and a terrified referee) away from completing an insane comeback at the Bernabeu in the quarterfinal the year before. The last two years have shown that idea to have been highly optimistic. The front office had long neglected the midfield, and their failure to adequately replace the likes of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba finally came home to roost. With the exception of Rodrigo Bentancur and the post-restart renaissance of Adrien Rabiot, no one in the unit was worth their playing time over Ronaldo’s first two years. The Portuguese could’ve played at his absolute Man U/Real Madrid zenith and not overcome that problem. That midfield has been significantly rebuilt this offseason, but we still have to see if it will work, and with further problems at fullback and the striker position this team still has some serious flaws.

It’ll take some serious internal improvement for Juventus to actually reach their ultimate goal in Europe. I focus on internal improvement because heavy investment from outside sources probably won’t be coming this year, and Ronaldo’s presence is a big part of that.

Reporting on Ronaldo’s salary varies slightly depending on what source you get, but it’s important to know that usually the number that you see is his net salary, after taxes. Either way, it detonated the wage structure that Beppe Marotta had been carefully cultivating for years. Forbes puts his net salary at €30 million per year, and extrapolating based on Italy’s top tax bracket put his gross salary at around $64 million, which, run through the exchange rate to Euros, amounts to just shy of €54.2 million. That’s a massive outlay for a single player, especially when you consider it’s nearly four times more than the next highest paid player (Matthijs de Ligt). Ronaldo’s salary is more than the next three players on the list (de Ligt, Paulo Dybala, and Aaron Ramsey) combined. Continue reading