Back in the summer of 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Real Madrid for a record breaking 94 million euros. Six years later, that is looking like a bargain if anything; with the Real Madrid jersey, the Portuguese superstar has been breaking all sorts of records, putting up the kind of numbers that you get on Football Manager and laugh at how unrealistic they are.
In 304 matches with Real Madrid, Ronaldo has scored 321 goals. These barely believable numbers put him only two goals away from Raul’s all-time record at Real Madrid and knowing Ronaldo it’s quite possible that record is shattered this weekend already when Real Madrid host Granada; after all, Ronaldo has scored 8 goals in his last 2 matches. To put into perspective just how ridiculous Ronaldo’s record is, Raul took 741 matches to reach his 323 goals tally, Ronaldo might do it in 305; that means that if he were to keep up the pace, he’d have notched 782 goals by the time he reaches the same number of matches as Raul, who was actually no slouch back in the day even if Ronaldo’s comparative numbers might make people believe otherwise.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Has now scored 19 goals in his last 10 appearances for Real Madrid #UCL
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 15, 2015
Some critics like to point out Ronaldo’s reliance on tap-ins and especially penalties – 60 of his 321 Real Madrid goals have been scored from the spot and a lot have been easy tap-ins too. That criticism, however, is completely nonsensical: being in the right spot at the right time to score is a very important skill, one that every team in the world wishes their strikers to have; after goal, getting the ball into the net is what wins football matches. As for the penalties, even putting aside the fact that it’s not easy to score them at the rate Ronaldo does (60 out of 67), they only make for 60 of his Real Madrid goals. Even if we were to exclude them for some arbitrary reason, 261 goals in 304 matches would still be quite unbelievable.
Another criticism often pointed at Ronaldo is that he stat-pads against inferior teams and never shows up in the big matches; but again, this clearly has no correspondence with the truth. He has scored 15 goals against Barcelona so far, in arguably the biggest club fixture in the world (El Clásico) and his Champions League record at Real Madrid shows 65 goals in 64 matches, including an all-time record of 17 Champions League goals in a single season to help Real Madrid win the 2013-2014 edition of the tournament.
Some also claim that his all-around game is lacking despite his incredible goalscoring. Once again, it’s hard to fault the all-around game of someone who’s always a threat to score from basically anywhere on the pitch, that alone is enough to cause all sorts of problems to the other teams’ defensive organization. Besides, it’s not like he doesn’t have a quantifiable influence aside from his goals, he has also notched 85 assists to go with his 321 goals: that means that he directly contributes to 1.34 goals per match at Real Madrid. If that doesn’t constitute good all-around play, then all-around play is probably overrated.
— Real Madrid Facts (@RMadridFact) September 13, 2015
Finally, some claim Ronaldo’s goals are mostly useless because what really counts is trophies and Real Madrid have only won 1 La Liga and 1 Champions League in 6 season, a relatively poor output considering the investment made by the club and especially compared with the trophy cabinet of main rivals Barcelona. But while it is true that Real Madrid’s trophy haul hasn’t even come close to meeting expectations, it’d be downright ludicrous to blame Ronaldo for that, on an individual level he’s done everything humanly possible to put Real Madrid in contention for titles. It also needs to be kept in mind that Real Madrid are directly competing with what many consider one of the greatest, if not the greatest, team of all-time in the current Barcelona side since the Guardiola era, which makes winning trophies all the more difficult.
Despite all the dissident voices, Ronaldo will soon become Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer, with a goal ratio that far surpasses everyone else’s, and in his time in a Madrid shirt he has established himself as a club legend and a football legend, and as arguably the best goalscoring machine the sport has ever seen. But his legacy is still being built; at 30 years of age, Ronaldo is still in great physical conditions and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.