There is only one Cristiano Ronaldo.
Neymar wouldn't have replaced Ronaldo, at least not right away. Gareth Bale won't replace Ronaldo if he's eventually signed by Real Madrid. Players like Ronaldo don't grow on trees, folks—he's a once-in-a-generation talent.
Okay, okay, so given the fact that Lionel Messi is arguably the better player, Ronaldo is a twice-in-a-generation player. But the point is this—Real Madrid won't be able to replace him if he departs this summer, and the club must do whatever it takes to keep him in a Los Blancos kit.
Since joining Real Madrid in 2009, he's scored an incredible 210 goals and added 47 assists in all competitions. For those keeping score at home, that's 52.5 goals and 11.8 assists per season.
To put that in perspective, Gareth Bale has 54 career goals for Tottenham in six seasons with the club.
Sure, Bale is five years younger and entered elite status this season, scoring 21 goals in the Premier League this season. He regularly carried Spurs and came up with several clutch, late-game goals throughout the season.
His burgeoning stardom is evident.
But let's quickly compare Bale at 23 to Ronaldo at the same age, when he was with Manchester United in 2007-08. In 50 appearances for the team that season, Ronaldo scored 42 goals and added eight assists.
This season, Bale made 47 total appearances, scoring 27 goals and adding 10 assists.
Now, the comparison isn't completely fair. Ronaldo clearly had a better team that season, one that won both the Premier League and Champions League titles. But by that point in his career, Ronaldo was one of the three best players in the entire world (behind only Kaka and Lionel Messi).
Bale isn't on that level, at least not yet.
Plus, there are few players on the planet more marketable than Ronaldo. And is there a player more exciting to watch?
Real Madrid matches are thrilling to watch solely because of Ronaldo. His pace down the left wing leaves defenders in the dust. His powerful right foot means he can score from great distances, and every time he lines up for a free kick he's a threat to score.
He has incredible leaping ability, meaning he scores some truly breathtaking headers. He's also as dangerous when he drifts centrally or on the right as he is on the left.
He truly is the perfect weapon.
Sure, unlike his counterpart Messi, who is perhaps at his most brilliant in tight quarters where his unparalleled touch and quick shooting trigger allows him to score with just inches of free space, Ronaldo is at his best in space. There, he can break down defenders and free himself for darting runs to the touch line or cut into the middle to unleash a blistering shot.
But that's why there is no better player on the wing in the world today. And why, despite the team's rumored interest in Bale, there is simply no replacement in the world for Ronaldo.
Now, if Real Madrid could pair the two, well, that would be something special...