Friday , 20 July 2018
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Cristiano Ronaldo joins Juventus, leaves Real Madrid after nine years of excellence

Cristiano Ronaldo joins Juventus, leaves Real Madrid after nine years of excellence

The shock move by the 33-year-old superstar comes shortly after losing what is likely his last chance to collect the only honour missing from his glittering resume — a World Cup for Portugal.

Ronaldo, who joined Real from Manchester United in 2008 for a then world record 80 million pounds ($106.27 million), is the Spanish club’s all-time top scorer with 451 goals in all competitions and won two La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies with them.

“For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of its greatest symbols and a unique reference for the generations to come,” European champions Real said, adding that Ronaldo had asked to be transferred. “Real Madrid will always be his home”.

The transfer fee was not disclosed but Spanish media said Ronaldo had signed a four-year deal and had cost Juventus 105 million euros ($123.24 million).

The Portugal international scored two goals against Juventus in Real’s 4-1 win in the 2017 Champions League final and earlier this season struck a jaw-dropping bicycle kick against the Italians in a 3-0 win in a quarter-final first-leg game in Turin which prompted Juve supporters to give him a standing ovation.

The Portuguese, 33, converted a stoppage-time penalty in the second leg to knock the Italians out 4-3 on aggregate.

The signing of the latest Ballon d’Or winner and top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons represents a major coup for Juve, who have had a stranglehold on the Italian title since 2012 but have not won Europe’s top prize since 1996.

The signing also strikes a blow for the profile of Serie A against La Liga, which has now lost two of its three most famous players in the last year after Paris St Germain signed Neymar from Barcelona last August.

Real has topped the La Liga twice and won the Champions League four times during his time there — Ronaldo is the first player to have five, including one with former club Manchester United.

He had won the Ballon D’Or – awarded to the world’s best footballer – in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, a record he shares with his eternal rival, Argentine talisman Lionel Messi. But in 2016 Ronaldo managed what Messi could not — winning a major international title for his country — when he led Portugal to victory in the European Championships.

And with both Portugal and Argentina being bundled out of the World Cup in the second round on June 30, it seems likely that the sport’s crowning achievement will elude both partners in football’s greatest player rivalry.

– Destined for greatness –

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was special from an early age. In the year of his 16th birthday, he played for Sporting Lisbon’s under-16, under-17, under-18, reserve and first teams, and two years later he so impressed Alex Ferguson in a 2003 pre-season friendly that the then-Manchester United boss snapped him up.

Six years, three Premier League titles and a Champions League later and he was on his way to Real Madrid, having joined George Best and Eric Cantona among the greatest players to wear United’s prized number 7 shirt.

Bought for a then-world record 94 million euros, Ronaldo more than paid back his fee, and while Barcelona continued to mostly dominate La Liga, he has become the king of European competition.

He was the first player to score 100 Champions League goals, and topped the competition’s scoring charts six times. The 17 goals he scored as Real beat local rivals Atletico to the 2014 title remains a single-season record.

He finally got the international monkey off his back with the 2016 Euros win after a lifetime of near misses and flattering to deceive on the world stage.

In beating the heavily-favoured hosts France in the final, he broke yet another record — his three goals made him the first player to ever score in four European Championships.

– Last World Cup? –

Ronaldo also became only the fourth player to score in four World Cups when he started this year’s campaign with a hat-trick against Spain that culminated in a stunning free kick. But he only bagged one more goal before Portugal fell to Uruguay, and will be 37 by the time the next global showpiece rolls around — meaning it is unlikely he will improve on a run to the semi-finals in 2006.

On the same day Messi, with whom Ronaldo has long competed for the title of the world’s best, was sent home empty-handed by a French side inspired by a breathtaking performance from 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe.

The World Cup in Russia may serve as a changing of the guard at the highest echelons of the sport, with Real Madrid forced this week to deny it made bids for both Mbappe and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar.

But whoever replaces Ronaldo may find it tough going filling his shoes. And Ronaldo will be looming at Juventus in European competitions as he continues to rack up records and build his case for being considered the greatest of all time.

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