The Ballon d’Or awards earlier this week were notable, not because Cristiano Ronaldo decided not to turn up, but because well, nobody really seemed to care all that much that the five-time winner had chosen not to attend.
Sure, there was a smattering of faux outrage on social media, but in the end CR7 was barely even a footnote in an evening in which Lionel Messi scooped a record sixth award.
Messi narrowly edged out Virgil van Dijk in second, who was typically magnanimous in defeat, while Ronaldo came a very, very distant third.
Instead of congratulating La Pulga as he made history, Ronaldo was in Italy picking up his MVP trophy at the Serie A awards – yeah, I haven’t heard of them either.
Despite the accolade’s trifling significance in comparison to the Ballon d’Or, the chances of the 34-year-old retaining this honour next year look slim, unless he can can redress what has been an underwhelming start to the season by his own other-worldly standards.
Ronaldo has managed seven goals in 16 appearances for Juventus this campaign while registering just two assists.
For any normal footballer this sort of output would be cause for celebration, however for the Portuguese international it represents one of his worst starts to a season in a decade.
In hindsight, there were perhaps some warning signs last that foreshadowed this downturn in form. He managed just two goal contributions in his final eight Serie A games last campaign, while a tired-looking Ronaldo could not prevent his side from Champions League elimination by Ajax in the quarter finals.
He still popped up with some moments of brilliance of course. A hat trick against Atlético Madrid to overturn a first leg deficit of two goals was particularly outrageous, but in general Ronaldo’s performances in the second half of the season were far removed from the dizzying 450 goal in 438 games that he registered at Real Madrid.
It was this eight years of dominance at Santiago Bernabeu that convinced Juventus to splash around
The €31m-a-year salary that Ronaldo allegedly receives is a staggering three times more than any other player in the league and simply put, CR7 is not currently justifying his astronomical wage.
The forward has managed 11 less goals than top scorer Ciro Immobile this season, while seven others including: Romelu Lukaku, Joao Pedro and even Sassuolo’s veteran striker Francesco Caputo also managing more.
Ronaldo is similarly lacking in assists, sitting well outside the top ten, which begs the question: what is he offering to the Old Lady this campaign?
One thing that he has and always will offer is commercial value.
A Financial Times report recently revealed the full extent of Ronaldo’s financial power by finding that the club’s product and licensing revenue increased by
Ronaldo’s signing was always therefore going to be more about just his performances on the field, but taking his footballing displays in isolation this season – something does seem wrong.
Perhaps he does not get on with Maurizio Sarri, who attracted the ire of the forward after having the audacity to substitute him when he wasn’t play very well in a series of football matches last month.
Perhaps age is finally catching up with the once untouchable freak of nature.
Or perhaps he just does not fit the system and his side needs to redeploy out-and-out wingers to get the best out of one of the best finishers the world’s ever seen.
Whatever is wrong, Juventus will want it sorted it as soon as possible. 34.4m Instagram followers and a bunch of shirt sales will be little consolation if Antonio Conte’s Inter can end their stranglehold on the Serie A title this season.
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