Four hundred and fifty goals. Forty four hat tricks.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid stats are absurd and his transfer to Juventus drastically changed the shape of two of the world’s biggest clubs. Juventus are reaping the benefits of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner while the club he left behind are struggling for goals and points. Madrid might well have banked 100 million Euros for Ronaldo but no money could possibly replace what has been taken away.
Impact of losing one of the greatest players can never be downplayed. The recent struggles of Los Blancos, like securing third spot in La Liga Table, is a testament to the fact that the club is missing the goals that Ronaldo used to provide willfully. Below are three reasons that prove that Real Madrid was not right to let go of Ronaldo
No proper replacements for Ronaldo
It is no secret that a team will always miss someone like Cristiano Ronaldo. Had they gotten an adequate replacement then this debate might well be moot. But the fact is that there isn’t a football player at the moment capable of delivering what Ronaldo delivered for Real.
But what’s actually hurting Real Madrid is how they dealt with the departure of Cristiano. The 35 million Euros spent on Thibaut Courtois last season, when the club already had an outstanding goalkeeper in Keylor Navas, could have been put to better use. They also brought in Mariano, who is yet to break into the Real Madrid first team squad and is not the most suitable solution against top opponents. The 45 million Euros spent in bringing Vinicius Junior from Flamengo may prove to be a wise long term investment, but it was far from a direct replacement.
The responsibility was on Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio to step up but they are yet to have a similar impact.
Real Madrid’s failure in front of goal
Essentially, Ronaldo’s departure left a huge void in the team in terms of goalscoring and leadership. In the Champions League as well as La Liga, Madrid have come up well short in front of goal. Cristiano’s unmatched scoring feats were missed in matches Real should have been winning comfortably. With Ronaldo, Real Madrid never went three games without getting on the scoresheet.
Real Madrid’s defensive numbers were comparable with Barcelona, but they only scored 63 league goals last season. In the previous eight seasons, they averaged 108.4 goals per season. From this stat, it is obvious that the vacuum left by the Portuguese is yet to be filled and Real Madrid are currently bearing the brunt.
Madrid’s 2018/2019 top goalscorer was Karim Benzema, with 30 goals in all competitions. Their next highest scorer was Gareth Bale, who managed to find the net only 14 times. Ronaldo scored no fewer than 42 goals in each of his last eight seasons in Spain.
There are those who believe that Ronaldo is all about the goals but he was more than that. The 34-year-old was a leader and his winning mentality motivated all his teammates. Real Madrid still boasts a lot of talented players, but without the effectiveness that Ronaldo brings Real Madrid could be prone to decline further in form as we have seen in these past months.
An ageing squad and an unstable squad
Even for Madrid’s standards, two sackings in the space of three months seems too drastic. After enduring their worst start to a campaign since 2001/2002, with four losses and two draws in their first 10 La Liga outings last season, Los Blancos fired coach Julen Lopetegui. His replacement Santiago Solari concluded his tenure in March, when the Spanish giants’ season effectively ended with a humiliating Champions League Round of 16 exit at the hands of Ajax. They finished 19 points behind Barcelona in the league, suffering 12 defeats in the competition.
Real Madrid’s squad is a mix of veterans and youngsters, who had become ineffective under three separate managers. Captain Sergio Ramos, last seasons top goalscorer Benzema and current Ballon d’Or holder Luka Modric are all on the wrong side of 30. Marcelo’s best years appear to be behind him. Real Madrid’s Champions League core would have anyway depleted someday, but Ronaldo should have been the last of that group to go and not the first.
Los Blancos have made some effort to turn to youth, and Ronaldo’s exit was arguably part of this process. Brahim Diaz, Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior are among the young stars who have earned minutes. But only Asensio, presently injured, has really broken through as a regular at this point.