Real Madrid: Give up on the nostalgia of a Cristiano Ronaldo return

Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid did not play this week in the Champions League, which gave Madridistas plenty of time to scout out Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. But some fans decided to spend their Tuesday night watching Madrid’s former superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The legendary No. 7 is the greatest player in the competition’s history, but he looked like anything but a legend against Porto in the second leg. Juve won 3-2, but by surrendering two goals at home, they were knocked out on away goals in the Round of 16 for a second straight year. And it was Ronaldo, who offered very little in the attack, who was culpable in the shaky wall for Juve’s second goal conceded.

Ronaldo’s miserable exit has led many to speculate that Juventus will forge on with their rebuild but do so without their high-priced superstar. And that could leave an opening for Real Madrid to reunite with a player many believe should have never left the Santiago Bernabeu in 2018.

However, I believe Madridistas should leave the memories in the past. Nostalgia is a dangerous emotion that makes us forget about certain realities, and it clouds our judgment of the future. Ronaldo and Real Madrid achieved great things together, but it is time for Real to build a new identity around a new superstar.

Cristiano Ronaldo is still great, but Real Madrid must focus on the future with Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland

Ronaldo is still an effective goal-scorer. After all, he has 20 goals in Serie A this season and will probably end up with his best goal-scoring season in the league. But he is no longer as good at beating players one-on-one, his chance-creation is worse than it once was, and he may only have a few years of top level football left in him.

Mbappe and Haaland will be world-class for the next decade. They are already out-producing Ronaldo, and while I would concede that CR7 could be more productive on a better team, we can’t forget that Juve defeated Lazio 3-1 in the previous match without the Portuguese superstar in the starting XI.

There have been so many exaggerated takes about Ronaldo’s play and the rumors of his decline have been proven false. But it seems like some Madridistas are going in the opposite direction, which is not good either. At 36, Ronaldo is still remarkably effective, but he is admittedly not the same, untouchable player he once was. He would not turn back the clock for Real, nor is he better than Mbappe or Haaland in what he could provide to this team.

Could he really still be as effective for Real as a left winger in their 4-3-3? Would there be space for him at that position? I have my doubts, and if Real are going to spend 30 million euros in salary on a player, they should do so on Mbappe. Or save their money and go after Haaland.

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I understand why Madridistas want a reunion with Ronaldo. But Real Madrid should focus on building another elite team over the next decade, rather than making the same move Juventus did and putting their resources in a player who would fit a “win now” project like PSG better. Los Blancos must remember a harsh concept. Sequels are rarely better than the original.