Real Madrid must take a long, hard look in the mirror this offseason. With the La Liga title returning to Barcelona and Jose Mourinho set to depart the capital city, Madrid are left to ponder how it all went wrong. Again.
While quick fixes are not explicit, Madrid officials should thoroughly analyze their ability to shop Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. The 28-year-old superstar has been the focal point of their offense over the past few seasons, but it is time to question whether or not selling him now would ultimately benefit Los Blancos over the next few years.
Quite frankly, Ronaldo has been unreal during his time in Madrid. The past two seasons the Portuguese captain has averaged more than a goal per game. It has been said many times, but if Lionel Messi did not exist, we would unanimously hail Ronaldo as the best player of this era, and one of the greatest ever.
Yet, despite his otherworldly statistics, Real Madrid have been unable to solidify the top spot in Spain or reach a Champions League Final. Madrid have certainly closed the gap with Barca domestically since his arrival, but their title ambitions have been met with mediocre results.
Selling Ronaldo is not the solution to Madrid’s deficiencies, but the exorbitant transfer fee they receive could go a long way toward developing a wealth of talent throughout the roster.
David Kent of The Daily Mail claims the only clubs willing and able to pay Ronaldo’s adjudged £80 million transfer fee are Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and PSG. While a return to Old Trafford has long been speculated, Ferguson’s departure makes it a less obvious choice.
Though the loss of Ronaldo would not be a popular decision among the fans, one has to recognize the influx of funds his departure could bring in. With two years left on his contract with Madrid, Ronaldo is still at his peak transfer value, but not for long. The forward has refused to sign a contract extension, and could walk away for free in 2015.
That type of price tag that only Ronaldo or Messi could carry would mean the ability to acquire three to four elite players to fill the void. Madrid should take notes on the personnel choices of Bayern and Dortmund, teams littered with stars but without a desperate reliance on a single performer.
Statistics reflect the differences between these clubs. Dortmund had five players score in double figures in league play this season, Madrid had three and Barcelona had two. Bayern Munich had five players score three or more goals in Europe, compared to just two players from Madrid and one from Barcelona.
The ineptitude of Barca without Messi and several Madrid displays this season indicate the fragile balance these clubs have on the pitch. Both Ronaldo and Messi are burdened with far too much responsibility due to their incredible talent, and this may not be the recipe for title success.
A comprehensive, balanced attack is something Real Madrid should look to develop should they sell Ronaldo this offseason. There are many talented footballers out there that can combine to make up for his absence and provide security through diversification.
From traditional strikers like Radamel Falcao to scoring playmakers like Gareth Bale, Isco and Hulk, Madrid would have a long list of names to pursue after unloading Ronaldo. None of these individuals can replace his output alone, but a group of similar talent could sum their parts to reach a higher level.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a once-in-a-lifetime player. His searing pace, aerial prowess and consistent accumulation of goals is breathtaking. But even with his contributions, Madrid have been unable to reach the pinnacle of world football with him in their side. In a quickly moving transfer market, Real Madrid would be wise to take action in order to transform their side from a predictable one-man force into a widespread attacking army.