The Portuguese has had another fine year on the field, finishing fourth in the Goal 50, but his impact off it has arguably been even more impressive
While discussing Cristiano Ronaldo’s petulant reaction to being substituted against AC Milan last weekend, Patrick Vieira argued, “At Juventus, the club is the real star.”
Only, that’s not really true, is it? Ronaldo is bigger than Juventus. Or, the ‘CR7’ brand is, at least. It’s why the Bianconeri signed him.
And it’s why they haven’t fined him for storming straight down the tunnel after being replaced by Paulo Dybala.
There’s been no sanction. And no apology either. Ronaldo’s only response came, rather fittingly, on Instagram: “A difficult game, an important win.”
Juve, for their part, are more concerned with the knee problem that coach Maurizio Sarri referenced afterwards. After all, they need Ronaldo fit. They need him to be visible at all times, on and off the pitch. They need him to win games and attract new fans.
Indeed, Giorgio Chiellini’s reaction to the news that Ronaldo was on his way to Turin last year was telling.
“We are excited,” the club captain enthused when news of the attacker’s €112 million (£101m/$130m) transfer from Real Madrid first broke.
“We are all looking forward to working with him; every part of the club: the players, the coaches, the directors, the marketing manager…”
As someone with a degree in economics and commerce, and a master’s in business administration, Chiellini obviously knew right away that this was a move based on more than just sporting factors.
Ronaldo may have been the reigning Ballon d’Or holder but even club president Andrea Agnelli subsequently admitted that the deal represented the first time during his administration that a player had been signed after taking the potential financial benefits into consideration.
After all, how else would one explain the decision to put together an overall package of €340m (£293m/$375m) – including fee, wages and taxes – for a 33-year-old forward
‘The Ronaldo effect’ had been decisive.
“Juventus have been growing year upon year since Agnelli took over in 2010 but they knew that in order to become a top club on a European level they had to expand their appeal beyond the boundaries of Serie A,” Marco Bellinazzo of Il Sole 24 Ore, and author of La fine del calcio italiano (‘The end of Italian Football’), tells Goal.
“Juventus are trying to position themselves alongside clubs with massive global appeal and huge budgets like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United.
“To compete with these clubs, you need to have a strong squad, but also important players within that squad who have a lot of followers on social media.