CR9's Chances According to History: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
So former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo was recently presented in front of thousands of fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In a presentation that was by far one of the largest in recent history, it's evident that the Madrid faithful expect huge things from the world record signing.
Since 2003, the transfer window has seen several successful Premiership players make the move from England to Spain's La Liga. Their transition between clubs and leagues has been met with mixed results.
Here, we'll take a look back at how a few those players have fared, and what it could mean for the man formerly known as "CR7". For the sake of keeping it comparable to Ronaldo's position(s), I'll focus on forward and wide players.
Good/Bad/Ugly/Good: David Beckham, 2003
David Beckham experienced both extreme highs and lows during his tenure with Real.
As part of the original Galaticos era under Florentino Perez, he would not only bring world attraction (and money) for his super stardom, but also genuine quality on the field.
In the five seasons prior to his arrival, Beckham had twice finished runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
He was great from the onset with his new club. His world class ability crossing the ball and on set pieces saw him provide a fair number of assists while he continued to score awe-inspiring free-kicks.
However, a dip in form paired with his first encounter with Fabio Capello resulted in Beckham watching from the sidelines. He was also seen as one the poster child for the failed Galaticos, which did not see silverware during his time.
All ended well though, as Becks fought his way back into the first team and played a vital role in Real securing their first La Liga title since the 2002-03 season.
Good: Diego Forlan, 2004
This could be the most interesting of the transfers listed here.
It's because not only has Forlan successfully made the transition, he's made leaps and bounds as a world class striker since arriving.
In his short stint with Manchester United, Forlan failed to impress and was sent packing to assist in funding the purchase of one Wayne Rooney. He was sold to Villareal.
He was La Liga and Europe's top scorer in his debut season and led Villareal to their first Champions League appearance. He has since kept a phenomenal scoring rate in forming one of the best striking duos in the world with Sergio Aguero at Atletico Madrid.
He is now the target of yet another move as 2008-09 saw him again crowned as Spain and Europe's top scorer.
Good: Fredi Kanoute, 2005
While not on the same scale as Forlan, Fredi Kanoute has also seen his fortunes change since moving to Spain.
He's gone from moderate Premier League success to becoming an influential part of Sevilla's rise in both La Liga and UEFA competions.
At Tottenham many thought he was a loss of potential, but a move to Seville has changed that. With the exception of his first, Kanoute has managed 20-plus goals every season.
Good: Ruud van Nistelrooy, 2006
Van Nistelrooy has had the reputation of being a goal poacher since his days at PSV. From then, he's been able to knock them in at an alarming rate.
His time at United was met with much success. He finished as the EPL's top scorer in his second season and finished behind Thierry Henry twice. Unfortunately he became unhappy and decided to move to Real Madrid.
The change in scene did not at all affect his ability to position himself and score as he had done so well before. He was the Spanish league's top scorer in his inaugural year with Madrid.
The only knock against Ruud is that injuries have gotten in the way of his availability. When he has been healthy though, he has displayed the same exact instincts for goals as he did in his days with United.
Good: Thierry Henry, 2007
Arguably the only striker that was better than Van Nistelrooy in the EPL was obviously former Arsenal captain, Thierry Henry. The French international was instrumental to the side as they won 2 league titles and 3 F.A. Cups.
In addition to the club's success, Henry earned himself a slew of personal accolades such as numerous Premier League and European scoring titles and PFA Player of the Year awards. He also finished second twice for the FIFA World Payer of the Year.
An injury riddled final season and club uncertainty however, led to his move to Barcelona.
It was seen by some as a slow start compared to his standards, but he still finished with a solid total while playing out of position. The lack of trophies from a star studded team also had many thinking he wasn't the right fit despite his numbers.
Henry stayed on and his sophomore year saw him return to greatness. Still playing on the wing, he managed to net more goals and partnered with Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi to create a devastating strike force.
Club success also came in the form of the first ever Spanish treble.
Ugly: Luis Garcia, 2007
It's puzzling to try and find where Garcia went wrong.
He had started out in Spain and was a solid player for various teams. While he wasn't the biggest of stars at Anfield, Garcia was known for his efficient wing play and crucial goals.
Time for change came for him after an increased lack of appearances and serious injury. And upon his move to Atletico Madrid, he was expected to fully fulfill his potential.
It was only a couple seasons before that he showed promise for the Madrid club, prompting Barcelona to bring their youth star back.
His return, however, has not been so fruitful.
His first season brought moderate success on the wing where he was used mostly against lesser sides or as a substitute. However, the past season saw him make just 7 total league appearances while the team continued on completely fine.
It's possible that he could be on the move again.
Good: Giuseppe Rossi, 2007
Leaving Manchester United was possibly the smartest thing that Rossi could have done.
Coming from their youth squad after being transferred from Parma's, Rossi ended up making more league appearances for Newcastle on a four month loan than his entire time with the Red Devils. He was also loaned back to Parma.
Opportunity knocked on the door in the form of Villareal. He paid immediate dividends as he scored in his debut and hasn't looked back since.
He has improved each season, establishing his presence on the field and as a part of the The Yellow Submarine.
Since his days and United, he's increased both his appearances and credibility as a capable player. It's led to regular call-ups to the Italian National Team and interests from top Europeans clubs such as Juventus.
Bad: Jose Antonio Reyes, 2007
Jose Antonio Reyes showed much promise barreling down the flank and scoring goals during season and a half with Arsenal. He played major roles in them securing an F.A. cup, a league title and advancing to the final of the Champions League.
And though the club wanted to keep him he longed to go back to Spain and was loaned to Real Madrid for a season. He mostly made substitute appearances, even under Fabio Capello, who had a liking for the player. Despite scoring the goals which sealed the title for Los Blancos his stay wasn't made permanent. Maybe he should have taken the hint.
Reyes would return to Spain permanently, this time with Atletico Madrid, and again failed to break into the first team. In some ways it was worse than his loan to Madrid. Again he was primarily a substitute and failed to score at all.
He has since been loaned out to Benfica, a deal which could be made permanent.
Good/Bad: Arjen Robben, 2007
Really the only knock on Robben over the years is that he's taken so many 'knocks'.
If that can be ignored (I understand that's hard to do), he had a great career with Chelsea. He established himself as one of the league's marquee wingers with his pace, control, service, and ability to switch flanks.
He was also a factor as Chelsea managed to win silverware in each of his three seasons.
After leaving the Blues for Real Madrid in 2007, and returning from another injury, Robben was an instant hit. He was influential in Madrid repeating as champions in 2008 and has managed to acquire a first team place.
Injuries, however, have made it difficult for him to consistently be a force and subsequently a star. Unfortunately, in Madrid these days that could be a terrible thing.
He still showed through multiple string of games that he could still produce. He was also one of the few bright spots for Madrid in their most recent clash with Barcelona.
It still remains unseen whether or not Robben will remain with the club, as the influx of superstars may be too much for his talents to overcome. It's beginning to look a little like his time with Chelsea.
Along with Henry, Robben could be the most comparable type of player to Ronaldo in terms of their skill sets.
Ugly: Alexander Hleb, 2008
Unfortunately, along with Reyes, another player slightly comparable to CR9 hasn't fared so well.
Alexander Hleb was a star for Arsenal in the 2007-2008 season, and a key player in the seasons before. His final year saw him in a playmaker role and it was for good reason. Along with Cesc Fabregas, he was the nucleus behind Arsenal's sublime attack.
His versatility and impact all over the field in the Premiership seemed like it could only mean good things with La Blaugrana, even with the amount of talent they already had.
Apparently, Barcelona was indeed too talented to break into. He was converted back into primarily being a winger and 2008 saw him make just 17 starts in all competitions.
Being hampered by injury certainly didn't help. Even still, he failed to impress and make an impact. Not much speculation has sprouted of him leaving, but at this point it doesn't appear the club has much use for him. At least he won a treble.
Ugly: Julien Faubert, 2009
Faubert doesn't really even belong with this host of players.
He was just only beginning to establish himself as a first team regular for West Ham. But the meteoric fall which he still managed after a loan move to Real Madrid is too much too ignore (And it's a little funny).
Instead of his play, the highlight of his time in the nation's capital was probably falling asleep on the substitutions bench. He went from being a decent and upcoming wing player for the Hammers to making just two substitute appearances for Madrid.
Real had the option to buy him at the the end of the loan. Understandably they didn't and he's on his way back to West Ham.
Review, Verdict, and Comments
So will this be a familiar image? Ronaldo raising his hands in joy at the Bernabeu?
Really only time will tell.
But according to recent past of great players who have made the move, things seem to be in his favor for the most part. Also there's the added fact that Ronaldo arguably is a better player than all of them were upon their arrivals to La Liga.
CR9's control with the ball at his feet, his bursts of speed, and his ability in the air have the potential to make him an even more dangerous player than he's been at United.
However, while it could make him ever more dominant, the more patient and wide open style of the league paired with playing with Real Madrid could take an extended amount of adjusting. Whatever happens, whether we like him and Madrid or not, we'll all be watching.
I'll be following this up with a similar look at Kaka and moves from Serie A to La Liga.
In the mean time since there's no poll, how do you think Ronaldo will do in his debut season? Do you think he'll catch on quickly or later in the season? Or will it take until next year for Madrid to see returns on their £80 million investment? Will he pan out at all?
I'd love to see your opinons in the comments below.