Cristiano Ronaldo’s stint in Italy grows yet more fruitful as his recent stunner against Genoa took his tally to 24 goals in 25 league games. The win catapults Juventus four points clear at the top of Serie A with nine games to play. At 35-years-old, the unrelenting consistency with which Ronaldo finds the back of the net shows no sign of letting up. An initially surprising switch has become a fruitful adventure that has inched the Portuguese further up the list of all-time greats.
Cristiano Ronaldo: One of Football’s Greatest Ever Players Continues to Dominate
The Pre-Italy Years
When Sir Alex Ferguson brought Ronaldo to the Premier League in 2003, many saw him as something of an arrogant show-pony, more focused on trickery than maximum efficiency in and around the box.
In the first three years, he cut a figure with frightening ability but ultimately unreleased potential. All that changed in 2007/08 when he laid down one of the best individual seasons in Premier League history. From then on, even the great Manchester United could not pin him down for long.
When players sparkle to the extent that Ronaldo did, Real Madrid are bound to come calling. A nine-season spell ensued with Lionel Messi and Ronaldo trading blow for blow, away from the nearest challengers. For context, 311 league goals in nine years put him 51 clear of the seemingly unbeatable gauntlet laid down by Alan Shearer over his entire career in the Premier League, a stark demonstration of the uncharted levels maintained during that period.
Something to Prove
The phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is simply not in Ronaldo’s vocabulary. A dream decade in Madrid earned him legend status, but he was in no mood to wind down and slink off back to Madeira with hundreds of millions in the bank. Instead, 33-year-old Ronaldo directed his twilight years towards one of the most defensive and tactical leagues in Europe.
It is hard to look past the argument that if people did not favour Messi so heavily in terms of who is ‘the best ever’, Ronaldo would not be chasing a legacy with such ruthless intensity. In a Messi-less world, a 450-goal stint at the Bernabeu would surely leave him with nothing left to prove. However, the opportunity to conquer yet another challenge is indicative of something one-club-man Messi has never been willing to do. It seems that Ronaldo moved to Juventus to support his case in the pursuit of eternal greatness.
The Story Continues
As demonstrated against Genoa, an ageing Ronaldo still has the capacity to light up games at the highest level. Behind only an in-form Ciro Immobile in the scoring charts, Ronaldo is still netting once every 92 minutes. To say he has more left in the tank would be a gross understatement. In 2020, his trophy cabinet continues to expand, with Juventus steaming towards yet another league title.
Messi and Ronaldo have made no secret of their competition with one another. The pair have pushed each other to unfathomable levels in pursuit of being considered the greatest ever. The general consensus is that the acclaim belongs to Messi, however many factors are in place to ensure that Ronaldo lays down a marker in terms of longevity.
Although still having a strong season, the Barca man is on course for his lowest scoring campaign since 2008. Despite being two years the Argentine’s senior, Ronaldo shows no signs of stopping. As an athlete who keeps himself in impeccable physical condition, and who converted himself from a tricky winger to a lethal striker with devastating effect, it would take a brave man to bet against another three or four strong seasons from him. Whether you like him or not, Cristiano Ronaldo relishes a challenge. The way he has adapted his goal scoring exploits to the Serie A only serves to cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
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