To me, he isn’t just the best player in the world, he is a contender for the best footballer the world has ever seen.
For Cristiano Ronaldo has just won yet another league title, this time with Juventus in Serie A.
And if it hadn’t been for his individual brilliance, the side wouldn’t have necessarily even reached the knockout stages of the Champions League where his efforts left him free from blame after they exited the competition.
He may not be the reigning world player of the year but it’s not the first time that award has baffled those within the game.
The decision to award that gong to another genius, Lionel Messi, after a year in which Ronaldo had won his first Serie A title and captained his country Portugal to Nations League glory surpassed the achievements of any other contender.
Fast forward to now, and the fact remains that had it not been for Ronaldo, Juventus would probably not have retained the Italian title last month.
For when it really mattered, he came to the fore and proved his worth by continuously providing us with some Serie A 2020 highlights.
To retain that level of influence in his mid-30s shows what a fine athletic specimen he is, as well as world-class talented footballer.
The question now is this: does he stay in Turin for another year or two and guide them to the Champions League they so crave – a title that has eluded them since 1996 – or does he seek a final chapter in another country after two more trophy-laden years in Italy?
There is no doubt that’s why he was bought to Italy in 2018 and the combination between him and the club’s next manager, Andrea Pirlo, may be pivotal.
Of course unlike his most recent Champions League success with Real Madrid two years ago, when he virtually single-handedly took the side to the final, he will need a helping hand as the Juventus supporting cast has largely underachieved in this tournament in recent times despite being backed by the Serie A 2020 odds.
Going back to my initial points, I recently saw a video of a young Ronaldo for the first time.
Yes, I knew about the match in question, a preseason friendly between Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United in 2003.
However, what I didn’t realise was how much impact he would have on the players at United, who were then English champions, in that encounter as senior pros begged Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him up in the dressing room after the match.
That Ferguson did and Ronaldo made his debut in the Premier League about 10 days later spoke volumes and the rest is very much history.
This is a player who mastered his technique in Madeira, learned his trade in Portugal, was ‘roughed up’ yet learned to adapt and overcome challenges at the highest level in England and promptly went on to become the best player in the world in the three different countries where he has played.
Add that to an exceptional work ethic which also helped him guide a small country on paper to a major international title, really completes the set for someone who may well be remembered as the greatest player who has ever lived.
Whether you agree with that last statement or not – and there are only a few who qualify to be considered in that bracket.
When you think about the other players like Messi, Maradona, Pele, Best, Cruyff, Zidane – there is no escaping the fact that Ronaldo has just completed another excellent season with so many goals and assists being the impetus for further glory.
A clear turning point in his career arrived in 2006 when England die-hards joined anti-United fans in trying to hound a 21-year-old Ronaldo and blame him for his role in Portugal knocking the Three Lions out of the European Championship.
Not everyone particularly at that age, could have recovered from the abuse but CR7 showed a strength of character which has stood him in good stead ever since.
I referred to his athleticism earlier and that is another area where this son of Madeira deserves huge credit for his physical transformation. He has taken his fitness levels to new heights and even now in his mid-30s, he shows no sign of stopping.
So the answer to the purpose of this editorial: “Evaluate Ronaldo’s season at Juventus” is a simple one.
Here is a footballer in contention to be remembered as the greatest ever. The complete player. And his 2019/20 campaign? World class yet again!
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