Juventus sealed the biggest transfer coup of the window so far when they announced a deal to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid two days ago.
Whatever happens next in the career of the Portuguese superstar, his status as one of the best football players of all time is secure. Here is a breakdown of how he immortalised his legacy during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
What really sets Ronaldo apart is not just the feats he has achieved in the last nine years since he left Manchester United, but also the context of those achievements. The better part of his decade in Spain also happened to coincide with a Barcelona team that many have termed as arguably the best football side ever.
Real won the Copa del Rey in his second season after his first had ended trophy-less as Barcelona won three back-to-back La Liga titles. Ronaldo had to wait until his third season to finally get his hands on a league winner’s medal. Such was Barça’s domination of La Liga, that the Real number seven would win the league just one more time – under Zinedine Zidane in 2017.
It is in the Champions League that Ronaldo’s fondest memories of his time at Real are likely to endure. He was part of the team that worked under Carlo Ancelotti to secure La Decima, Los Blancos’ tenth Champions League crown in 2014. They were eliminated by Juventus in the semi-finals of the 2014/15 edition but they then made history by winning the next three consecutive titles, an exploit accomplished by no other side in the current version of the Champions League.
Overall, Ronaldo leaves Madrid having won four Champions League titles, two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles, two Spanish Super Cup trophies, three UEFA Super Cup trophies and three FIFA World Club Cup trophies.
Personal records and accolades
Never one to shy away from personal glory, Cristiano has always seemed as keen to win personal accolades as he is to win team honours. He made the move to Los Merengues as the reigning World Player of the Year, but that in many ways was merely the beginning of his world domination.
As Barcelona soared collectively, their talisman, Lionel Messi won four straight Ballon D’Or awards between 2009 and 2012. Ronaldo hit back to claim the 2013 and 2014 editions, although Messi remained ahead of him by four awards to the Portuguese’s three. The Barça forward took his tally to five in 2015, but Real’s incredible success in the Champions League helped Ronaldo draw level with the last two awards. He is currently seen by many as the favourite to finally surge ahead of Messi with a win in 2019.
During his spell at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo has also managed to be recognised as UEFA Best Player in Europe three times and finish as top scorer in the Champions League six times, three times in La Liga and twice at the World Club Cup and the Copa del Rey each.
He leaves Real Madrid as their most prolific goal-scorer by a country mile, with a spectacular record of 450 goals in 438 appearances.