There’s no doubt at all – Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the game of football.
In terms of Portugal, he’s up there with the great Eusebio. In world football, he’s on a par with Messi, Maradona and maybe even Pele. His achievements will stand the test of time.
All good things must come to an end, though, and it is thought that now, at 33 years old, perhaps his light is beginning to fade. His high-energy displays must take a physical toll on the player and that is more evident now than ever.
His game has changed as he’s matured, something every footballer must go through. Once upon a time, he was a flair player, a tricky winger at Manchester United with little end product.
Then, he switched to the old ‘inside forward’ role, not quite a striker but not quite a winger. It didn’t really matter where you put him, as he developed, he became the unstoppable force that has driven the great Real Madrid through the last decade. His goal scoring ratio has been phenomenal, his presence on the world stage unrelenting and dominant.
Recently, he had to move more central as age began to knock on the door. Many great players change from high-tempo roles as their body starts to let them down. Wayne Rooney dropped further back into midfield; Ronaldo simply became more central. He adopted the role of a deadly striker, lacking deadly pace but still lethal in the box.
Ronaldo is still the Ballon d’Or holder; he’s still the best in the world, but is he truly as good as he has been in the past? With his European Cup win for Portugal, you got the sense that he’d finally achieved everything he wanted, including international honours for his country. All great players are judged both domestically and internationally and, whilst he had no points to prove at Madrid, he still had Portugal success to master. With that done, has he resigned himself to the fact his career is winding down?
Ronaldo has 430 Madrid goals from 390 appearances, a ratio that is beyond comprehension. He is the stuff of legends, a player whom it has been a joy to watch throughout his career. This season, he has 41 goals from 39 appearances but just 22 from 29 games in La Liga. Last season, he struck 55 times in 55 games but just 25 in 38 La Liga outings.
The numbers don’t lie; his ratio is as good as ever. In February and March 2018, he scored a whopping 17 goals in just eight games, including three against Paris St Germain in the Champions League. He’s scored 12 in Europe’s elite club competition, four more than his nearest rival, Wissam Yedder. His Real Madrid side are behind Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona in Betsafe’s online betting odds but, with the master in their ranks, they have something at least two of those sides do not – a bonafide legend.
Throughout his career, Ronaldo has scored goals and, whilst he’s switched his game around to accommodate physical changes, he remains as lethal as ever. The question posed was ‘is age catching up with Cristiano Ronaldo’? He’s currently enjoying the same scoring ratio domestically as he did last season; he’s the current leading scorer in the Champions League by some distance and he’s preparing for yet another major tournament with Portugal. The answer is absolutely not.