Cristiano Ronaldo finally made headlines for all the right reasons last night.
With his match-winning strike against Manchester City in the UEFA Champion's League, the heavily-criticized playmaker—at least temporarily—silenced countless of his detractors.
After simply stating that he was “sad” to the Spanish media following Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory against Granada two weeks ago, speculation has flown relentlessly back-and-forth about the Portuguese star and his odd confession.
No stone has been left unturned by football pundits and weary fans in figuring out what exactly was and continued to be troubling Ronaldo, especially as Madrid slumped to another depressing loss away to Sevilla in the league on Saturday.
Some have said that the £80million forward only let his money-hungry side resurface and attempted to appeal for a larger salary at Madrid with his famous quote—although he denied that as the motivation days later.
Others have claimed that Ronaldo is upset due to internal issues at the club. Then, there are rumors of distress over friend Kaka’s situation and frustration at club president Florentino Perez for not accompanying him to the European football awards last month.
Until last night's dramatic 3-2 home victory, the only obvious fact was that Ronaldo’s “sadness” translated into very sub-par performances in a Madrid shirt so far, leaving the club he has often single-handedly carried lying in a depressing 11th position in La Liga.
However, with a single strike against Manchester City to win a match that the club had been losing on two occasions throughout the 90 minutes, Ronaldo silenced all the transfer rumors and the drama hurled at him by the media recently.
During his unhappiness, commentators quickly started throwing around the possibility of the Portuguese international leaving the club. Former Real Madrid manager Ramon Calderon went as far as suggesting that Ronaldo needed to leave if he is not satisfied at the Spanish champions.
Yet, as The Guardian columnist Jonathon Wilson pointed out in an article this week, "Were Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Real Madrid who, realistically, even with the enormous marketing potential he offers, could afford his wages?"
Even if Ronaldo were unhappy enough to leave the club for unsuitable wages, which he has made clear he is not, his only possible alternatives would perhaps be free-spending PSG in France or Manchester City, which he put to the sword last night.
And, while France may be a likely situation, the Portuguese captain would be foolish to return to England for the direct rivals of the club that helped shape him in Manchester United.
Following his match-winning goal—celebrated with a glee that could have one think nothing had ever been troubling him at all—Ronaldo stated that he "had to celebrate" and went on to mention Madrid's position as fighting to return to form after a disappointing start to this season.
It seems like the club will be able to move on finally. But perhaps a bigger threat than a potential transfer, the higher-ups at Madrid need to make sure that their most marketable and fascinating player does not start to dip in form due to internal issues at one of the world's richest clubs.
Ronaldo may not want more money. However, he will need the security of knowing that the club continues to believe in him and Mourinho's project. If his form were to dip again, after already dropping precious points in three matches, it could be disastrous for Madrid in a season where Barcelona is fighting to regain their lost La Liga crown.