Real Madrid’s chase of Cristiano Ronaldo is the biggest story in European football right now. Other than the soon-to-start Euro 2008 that is. Real have been undaunted in their pursuit of the Portuguese, while his current club – Manchester United have been equally determined to hold onto him.
Off late, there have been some ifs and buts from both parties. The player himself has been giving mixed signals and adding to the confusion. Let’s analyze all the angles and all that could be good and bad about this move.
Why Ronaldo might go to Real Madrid
Ronaldo has already achieved all he could with Manchester United. He has won the EPL, the FA Cup and the Champions League. He has been the Player of the year in England, won the golden boot and will end up as the European player of the year in all probability. He will want to go to Real in search of new conquests.
By winning the Champions League, Ronaldo has also repaid the debt he owed to Sir Alex Ferguson for giving him a chance at Old Trafford, and for standing by him when the English media was berating Ronaldo for his role in Wayne Rooney’s red card at the World Cup. The Scot wanted the Champions League more than anything else and will have little to begrudge Ronaldo if he walks away.
Ronaldo is an Iberian from Portugal. Becoming a star in Spain (another Iberian country) at Real will be a dream come true. It doesn’t get any bigger than this for him.
Why Ronaldo might not go to Real
Ronaldo was completely overwhelmed with emotion during the Champions League final. The final reminded him of his own mortality and probably gave him a new perspective in life. He would have realized that he has a great thing going for him at Old Trafford, and would be a fool to jump ship and run off to Real. He would want soak in the glory of his efforts and not want to start afresh at the Bernabeau.
Ronaldo also happens to be part of a superb Manchester United side which is on the brink of greatness. They just had a brilliant season and still have scope for improvement. With a young core of outstanding players, they could reel off a slew of titles in the coming years. The scene at Real is not that great. And neither is he going to be winning titles galore with Portugal. This is Ronaldo’s chance to become a football legend. He might not want to let it go.
Ronaldo is the biggest star at Man United and their primary goal-scorer. The likes of Rooney and Tevez play second–fiddle to him. This will not be the case at Real. Ronaldo will have to share the spotlight with Raul among many others.
Ronaldo still has age on his side. He can go to Real later .
Why Man United should let Ronaldo go
This could be the mother of all football transfers. Real are desperate and United can make them pay dearly for their desperation. If they play their cards well, they could end up with a ton of cash and more than a couple of world-class players in return. Every player has a value attached to him and if Real’s price is far in excess of Ronaldo’s value United should pull the plug.
United have holes to fill at right back, centre forward and on the right if Ronaldo leaves. This single transfer could fill all the gaps with world-class players. Real have many redundant players like Robinho who mean little to them but are of proven quality otherwise. They will be undervalued in such a deal, much to United’s advantage.
United benefited from addition through subtraction the last two times they sold a player to Real. This could happen once again. Ronaldo’s exit will provide more opportunities for the likes of Rooney, Tevez and Nani. This will bring out the best in these guys and United will be able to compensate for Ronaldo’s loss.
Why Man United should not let Ronaldo go
All the transfer money in the world will count for nothing if there are no players available. The likes of Chelsea, Milan, Real and Barcelona have bottom less trunks of money and could out-bid United in any bidding war. Players of Ronaldo’s quality are few and far between. Man United could be left with a pile of money and no replacement.
It is never advisable to break up a winning combination. United have finally managed to put together a side which can compete with the very best in Europe. To add to it, they have also had their share of transfer busts, in spite of all the experience that Fergie has. There is no guarantee that a world-class player will fit in perfectly in the United side. Remember Juan Carlos Veron? United had nine years of frustration before they returned to the centre stage in Europe. They should not be risking another spell on the European fringes.
What I would want United to do
I want to see more of Ronaldo at United. But if push comes to shove, United should make Real pay heavily in return – enough to get at least two players, who can walk into the current United side. I don’t want them to settle for Robinho and cash. Traditionally Brazilians haven’t done well in the rough and tumble of the premiership. The odds of the slightly-built Robinho getting knocked around are very high.
I want United to bargain for Arjen Robben and Wesley Snijder. The former is a proven commodity in England who will at least be a medium term replacement for Ryan Giggs. He will also have extra motivation for the games against Chelsea. Snijder on the other hand will be the best possible replacement for Scholes. Few midfielders have had the kind of impact that he’s had in his first season at the Bernabeau. He will command an immediate place in the United mid field and make them an even greater force.
If United can get only one of Snijder and Robben, then they should get enough additional cash to buy the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel E’too, Karim Benzema, Dani Alves and Franck Ribery. Nothing short of that will do. And if they fail to land both Dutchmen, then the money should be sufficient to buy two such players.
I will miss Ronaldo but Real’s benevolence and United’s shrewdness could ensure that Red Devils like me don’t miss the success that United have enjoyed this season.