Could This Real Madrid Side Compete in Europe Without Cristiano Ronaldo?

Salvatore LandolinaContributor IIMay 13, 2013

Ron Your Bike! Will Ronaldo leave Madrid?
Ron Your Bike! Will Ronaldo leave Madrid?David Ramos/Getty Images

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be linked with a return to Manchester United. Such a move—if it were to happen—would cause shock waves at the Bernabeu, while at the other end, fans of the Premier League champions are dreaming their former hero returns.

Back in January, I wrote an article suggesting the Spanish club should waste no time in finding a replacement for Ronaldo. The Portuguese international would provide rock-solid credit for Madrid to spend on someone new—it’s what they need.

Understandably, fans of Real would view a Ronaldo exit as disastrous. Of course, the standards would drop instantly, but that does not mean they would fail to compete in Europe or in La Liga. Three times with Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho Madrid have tried to win the Champions League—three times they have failed.

Everyone thought the Portuguese duo would make the impassable passable, it was never going to be that easy. Perhaps a change of staff would allow the club to go through a transition period; time to settle down and make new plans, rather than rely on just Ronaldo and Mourinho to scrape them through.

Whether Ronaldo is in the team, Madrid would still be able to compete. They were successful before the ace arrived from United in 2009, and they will continue to be competitive without him. Though selling the former Old Trafford ace might sound easy, it is not that simple.

Yes, Ronaldo has appeal, he scores goals, he sells shirts, he pulls in sell-out crowds but how many clubs can afford him? Not many. Madrid would want at least the same £80 million they spent on him four years ago to part company.

Crucially, his current deal expires in 2015 which allows time to rethink and plan ahead. With Mourinho likely to leave this summer, there will be one less hurdle to negotiate in the boardroom.

According to Sid Lowe of the Guardian, Mourinho suggested the club’s season was destined for failure after Ronaldo’s "sad" comments. With the blaming and accusing over, there will be an air of tranquillity for those at Madrid to decide what the future holds for club and player.

What we must remember is this is Real Madrid, not Real Ronaldo or Real Mourinho. Ronaldo does make a difference, but did he make the difference to win a 10th European title? Football moves in circles. If he leaves, Madrid will just have to look for another global superstar to replace him.