Cristiano Ronaldo turns 33 with an uncertain future at Real Madrid

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 03: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Levante and Real Madrid at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium on February 3, 2018 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 03: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Levante and Real Madrid at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium on February 3, 2018 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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It’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s birthday! The Dark Invader turns 33 today, with his future at Real Madrid looking increasingly uncertain.

Upon turning 33, Cristiano Ronaldo has a lot to celebrate. Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or trophies, four Champions League trophies, has the record for the most goals scored in the Champions League, and is coming off the back of a historic season with Real Madrid.

But yet, despite all these accomplishments, Ronaldo has to be feeling more uncertain about his future than ever. While rumors circulate every year that link Ronaldo with a move away from the Spanish capital, this year those rumors seem more prescient than ever.

After all, Ronaldo seems to be experiencing a sharp drop in form in 2017-2018. After tearing apart every opponent that was put in front of him last season, Ronaldo now seems to be utterly unable to find the back of the net. His form has shown such a big drop-off, that some have began to speculate whether  Ronaldo’s time at the top of the game might be coming to an end. Graham Ruthvren, for example, wrote the following:

"Ronaldo will most likely get his hands on more silverware, and will certainly score many more goals, but at the top level, he is all but done as an individual match-winner. He might be the incumbent Ballon d’Or holder, but Ronaldo is no longer the force he once was."

I think Ruthvren might be exaggerating a bit here. We’ve seen Ronaldo have an extended dip in form and then return to the highest levels of performance. And Ronaldo has been pretty unlucky this season. He’s significantly underperforming his xG, showing that he’s getting good opportunities, but isn’t finishing them.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo’s bad turn is undeniable, and has coincided with an abysmal spell for Real Madrid. That could spell trouble for Ronaldo. With CR7 taking up room in the attacking roster, it’s difficult for Real Madrid President Florentino Perez to make room for another Galactico signing like Eden Hazard or Harry Kane, both of whom have been linked to the club at various points. Tabloid rumors have suggested that relations between Ronaldo and Perez have already turned sour. One has to wonder when the Ronaldo era at Madrid might be coming to an end.

But Perez is also in a tricky spot here. There aren’t many other clubs that can afford Ronaldo’s sky-high wage demands. And there aren’t many other clubs with the prestige and profile of Real Madrid which would satisfy Ronaldo’s never-ending drive to be the best.

Ronaldo has to start thinking seriously about what his future will look like. If Ronaldo can accept a reduced role at Real Madrid, there’s no reason to think that we couldn’t get a few more good years out of Ronaldo. But for those who know Ronaldo’s temperament, the idea of him accepting a backup position seems totally far-fetched.

Next: Player ratings for Madrid's draw with Levante

Ronaldo’s 33rd birthday is a great day to look back on all the wonderful moments Ronaldo brought to this club. But it’s also a time to look forward. And for Ronaldo, the future looks increasingly uncertain.

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