For Part II of our Cristiano Ronaldo-centric roundtable extravaganza, we build off what we talked about a couple of days ago. That was centered around the expectations that Ronaldo has now brought with him from Real Madrid to Juventus, with a legitimate case being made that it’s now a “Champions League title or bust” mentality now in Turin.
Today, we stay along those same lines.
With all the warm and fuzzy feelings about the Ronaldo transfer being thrown out there over the last two weeks, there is a sense that Juve’s long-standing dream of ending its Champions League drought will come to an end now that CR7 is on the roster. However, there’s always going to be a devil’s advocate of sorts to any kind of situation no matter how good it may seem from the outside.
Here, we pose a two-part question of sorts.
What’s the best-case scenario for Juventus over the span of Ronaldo’s four-year contract?
And, in turn, what’s the worst-case scenario for Juventus over the span of Ronaldo’s four-year contract?
The roundtable has assembled once more. Opinions, let there be some!
In the best case scenario, Ronaldo integrates relatively seamlessly into the team. There will be growing pains, as there always are with any transfer, but by November or so Ronaldo churns out goals with little to no outside drama. Juve finally starts hammering the teams everyone thinks they should hammer on a regular basis, and the team continues to pile up trophies, including the one that really matters: a first Champions League in more than 20 years. By the tail end of his contract the team’s brand has exploded to join the absolute elites of Europe in a permanent seat at the big boys’ table — Juventus can finally eat at the proverbial €100 restaurant without having their friends spot them.
In the worst case, things in the dressing room sour quickly. Expecting to be an instant leader, Ronaldo clashes with the team’s existing leadership structure over issues like who takes free kicks. Discontent spreads quickly, and the team has to slog its way to results. They manage domestic trophies on talent alone, and crash out of the Champions League early in the knockout phase. Players like Miralem Pjanic decide they’re tired of the team submitting to his whims and start looking for an exit. The problems disrupt Juve’s attempts at brand-building, and perhaps Ronaldo himself starts to wonder if he made the right decision — and whether he should stay the full four years or jump somewhere else. The risk doesn’t pay off, and the club remains in that second tier of European clubs that will only ever win the big one if everything comes together exactly right.
Worst case: The Ronaldo purchase financially cripples the club. The player himself regresses at a much more rapid pace than anticipated, whether due to injury or otherwise. The rise of stars like PSG’s Kylian Mbappe mitigates the Ronaldo marketing effect within 18 months. Juventus fail to win any Champions League title. And, finally, with her extremely aging roster, the Old Lady not only falls short of European glory but gradually cedes Italy to the likes of Inter, Roma, and Napoli.
Best case: Juventus gains two to three elite years out of Ronaldo, who has somehow discovered the fountain of youth in his mid-30s. Ronaldo’s obsession with winning matches the club’s, and CR7 leads the Old Lady to two Champions League titles in four years. What’s more, Ronaldo’s elite form not only helps the club retain Paulo Dybala, whose game quietly but effectively grows in the shadow of Ronaldo, but also attracts the top young talent from around the globe. After absorbing a tough financial blow for a couple years, Juve’s marketing success and brand reach begin to gain the momentum and critical mass needed to start generating revenue. All of this launches Juventus into the upper echelon of football.
Best case: Winning the Champions League not once, not twice, but
three times a lady four times in a row! Honestly, just winning every single competition Juve competes in for four years. Hey, you said best-case. Let a man dream. Moreover, to go back to my first answer, if the club were to be able to break the financial hegemony of the world’s richest clubs. I hope we can join the rich-boys’ party. Oh and to put the cherry on top, maybe Forbes will write an article about how Juventus is a self-made footballing success as well.
Worst case: Drop out of the group stages of the Champions League in each of the four years, Ronaldo tears an ACL in his first game, and our domestic dominance falls apart. Also, the transfer fails to catapult is into the financial top of global football. Basically though, if we fail to win the Champions League at least once, things will certainly be a disaster.
And to rub salt in the wound, Forbes still writes an article about how Juventus is a self-made, I don’t know, giraffe or something.
For one, a Champions League title needs to be reached. There is no other way around it. If Ronaldo’s time as a bianconero comes to a close without realizing a European championship, then his time and skill will most likely be viewed as a dropping of the ball.
The club needs to continue winning the Scudetto, but I do not feel it is the No. 1 priority right now. Juventus, of course, needs to routinely challenge for the Scudetto and be at the top of the table, sure, but if a Serie A title was spared one of these next four years in exchange for a Champions League title instead, I’m sure it wouldn’t be met with all that much scrutiny. Best-case is winning three in a row and getting to 10 straight.
I’d also like to see the potential in this squad to come together perfectly. Cristiano continuing his insane goal-scoring prowess and not slowing down. Paulo Dybala would finally see a high level of consistency in his game while working in tandem with Ronaldo. Miralem Pjanic would stay the course in being the man in midfield, Douglas Costa would extend his ability to provide spark whenever on the pitch, and Federico Bernardeschi would break out like we all think he can. Lastly, Wojciech Szczęsny and Mattia Perin would be able to prove they are up to the task of replacing Gianluigi Buffon in net without any drop off, something I’m confident in after seeing Woj’s work last season.
Lastly, I would like to add a Ballon d’Or on to my best-case scenario for one of our boys. Whether it be Ronaldo or Dybala or someone else (whether in the squad now or bought later), seeing one of our own win this prestigious honor for the first time since Pavel Nedved in 2003 would be awesome.
Worst-case, undeniably, is Ronaldo not being able to help provide a Champions League win, as I previously mentioned. A failure to capture that elusive title for four more years is enough to send shivers down Juventus supporters’ spines. Speaking of Ronaldo, the next four years would be disastrous if he isn’t able to bring top-level excellence and form for at least the majority of his contract. Worst-case would be that his age finally catches up to him, and he slows down immensely. Routine rest would not prove enough to keep him sharp and performances would slip. Goals wouldn’t be scored at the same rate, and the presence and threat he poses against the opposition wouldn’t be near his Real Madrid and Manchester United years.
Another part of the worst-case scenario would be losing the Scudetto more often than not. Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti would finally put it all together and topple Juventus and start a new run of dominance on top of the league. Even worse would be Inter winning a title, something I don’t even want to become a remote possibility.
What’s mentioned above would happen mostly in tandem between a Ronaldo decline as well as players leaving or not panning out as hoped. Dybala leaving for La Liga or the Premier League, players not wanting to come join Ronaldo after a massive downturn in form, and youngsters like Berna, Bentancur, and Cancelo not providing what is expected after being given more minutes. Older players like Giorgio Chiellini will eventually have to retire, and a rebuild will have to be undertaken after putting together this amazing looking team that we have at the moment. Not being able to see a consistent level of success both domestically and in European competition with this squad would be gut-wrenching.
Best case is kinda ridiculous, but it’s got to be four straight trebles.
Worst case is he turns into an injury-prone prima donna and adds nothing of value to the team, gets in repeated squabbles with players and management and storms off into the MLS sunset around 2020.
Best case scenario on the field, is continued dominance of domestic competition and a couple of Champions League trophies, while somehow parlaying the Ronaldo signing and consequent media attention into developing the brand of the team enough that it can battle the Manchester United and Real Madrid of the world.
You already know what the worst-case scenario is. Ronaldo turns out to be a 33-year-old human after all, his form drops, injuries pile up, the media attention continues but for the worse, the team struggles, and the massive Ronaldo contract becomes a financial anchor that forces the club to make player sales of the core of the squad that makes the team uncompetitive.
Ronaldo leaves on a free to MLS in two years and all the steady gains made in the last eight years disappear. But, hey, if you want to win big you have to risk big, right?