The price to pay for Cristiano Ronaldo

It’s one thing to wake up to a bad dream – that, you know is not true. It’s quite another to wake up to the realization of a nightmare, and this morning the Ronaldo saga has definitely taken the nightmarish twist that had beckoned ever since the winger refused to quash any speculation on his future.

Journalists have a hard job, so I’m not going to talk too much about that moron guy at the Guardian and how his story-telling may bring in readers and controversy but is hardly entertaining and always a gray shade of the truth.

I don’t have much to say about Madrid either – they want their man and they’ve done everything possible (short of physically kidnapping him) to get him. The magic (and this is worth applause) of their approach is that the more you hear the rumours in the press, the more people start to believe in it and pretty soon the whole thing gains a momentum of its own. If the player has even the slightest desire to move, this momentum can expose that desire and turn it into a full-on craving. It ain’t pretty to watch but it works, so that’s a dirty job well done.

There are a few questions that I want to ask though:

1) Why does every newspaper (and blogger) I read find it necessary to vouch for the ‘respectability’ of Terra (the Brazilian site that published the interview)? I’m sure it is, but someone ‘saying so’ doesn’t dispel my doubts about the interview’s authenticity.

2) Are Real Madrid really willing to pay 75m to United and 300k / week to Ronaldo over the next 5 years? The former is more likely than the latter, and even then it’s a bit preposterous. I’m guessing that Madrid have just thrown around these numbers to grab attention and that the real wages will just be a bit above what United are offering and the transfer fee, well, Real will battle hard to keep it around 40m.

3) Should Ronaldo be forced to stay? It’s what Fergie said in the Frost interview (to paraphrase): “when foreigners come to England they’re always looking to move on after a while and it was the same with van Nistelrooy.” Ronny has had 5 years, and could fetch United 40m+. Cash in now, rebuild the squad and move on. We have the players to do it, and keeping Ronny onboard will only make things worse (and he’s not going to be worth more next season).

4) Will United, in spite, sell Ronaldo to Barcelona instead? Always a possibility but this is not the time for spite, it’s the time for doing good business. Sell Ronaldo for plenty of moolah and be done with it.

5) Who will Madrid go after next? My bet is Fabregas, because after Ronaldo (or alongside him if you will) he is the most highly-rated young footballer around. The 2009 summer will be a lot of fun for Arsenal.

A part of me still hopes that Ronaldo doesn’t leave, that he commits his heart and soul to United. But the harsh truth is that if he doesn’t want to stay he should go, and he would fetch more money now than he would next season (unless he scores 60 goals next year…).

How will you remember Ronaldo? For the apparent betrayal, for Germany 2006, for the diving or for the matches he’s won? I choose the last option – the rest is the price we pay, and unfortunately that’s the price football makes us pay as well.

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