Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid 1–0, leaving Real nine points behind league-leading Barcelona (and four behind Atletico) and their fans calling for club president Florentino Perez to step down.
After the match, Cristiano Ronaldo expressed his frustrations not only with the match, but with the press and Real’s season. And in doing so, he served up a damning soundbite to anyone who wanted to make use of it. Which turns out to be just about everyone.
From Goal.com (full transcript here):
Q: Can you see any explanation for so many injuries?
RONALDO: “I do not know the explanation, but it is a fact, and it should be said. I don’t know why, it could be from preseason. But I do know that the guys who aren’t here are very good.”
Q: The Ronaldo that Real Madrid fans most like to see is the one who played against Roma, grabbing the ball and going straight at the defence. But why have we not seen that Ronaldo against Malaga, or today, or at Betis or Granada? You said it, since the best aren’t there…
RONALDO: “The others are having a great season and I am very close to them. If I am so bad, like you guys say all the time, I haven’t seen in the Champions League either anyone close to me.
“It annoys me because it seems like it is a prejudice you guys have against me. If everyone was at my level we are first.
“You guys are unfair a lot of the time, you ask me really hard questions. You are always questioning my talent here in Spain. It seems like I am shit, but the numbers do not lie, statistics never lie. Look at the statistics, it’s easy.”
Once everyone latched onto that “If everyone was at my level we are first” line, Cristiano was quick to release a “clarification.”
“My comments were misinterpreted after the game. I wasn’t saying that I’m better than everyone else. I was referring to injuries. The team have lost a lot of important players through injury like Pepe, Bale, Benzema, Marcelo… That has harmed us and prevented us from reaching our usual level. I have the upmost respect for my team-mates and I’d never want to offend them. I don’t consider myself better than anyone”, Cristiano Ronaldo has resolutely told AS.
Whether Cristiano really was talking about injuries the whole time or if his frustrations on the day combined with his longstanding perception of persecution to lead him to put down his teammates in order to build himself up doesn’t really matter. Either way, it serves as another reason as to why it’s time for Cristiano to leave Spain.
To be clear, this isn’t suggested as a punishment for him or his comments, it’s the recognition that his situation is no longer a good one and his best option is to move on.
Cristiano has made it clear time and again that he thoroughly believes that the Spanish press is against him. This is exacerbated by the natural rivalry between him and Lionel Messi, which has been intensified by the fact that they play for rival clubs — a combination of elements that has clearly taken its toll on Ronaldo in particular, embittering him and crossing over from motivator to distraction and perhaps even inhibitor.
Then there’s Real Madrid. Florentino Perez has proven incapable of assembling a team that can compliment any of its stars, let alone compete with Barcelona’s trio of unity, friendship, and goals (a.k.a. Messi, Neymar, and Suarez), or even Atletico Madrid, for that matter. As long as he is in charge of the club, it will remain a less than ideal environment for Cristiano to excel.
Plus, if they have to keep other players’ transfer fees a secret in order to avoid upsetting Ronaldo, it’s time to part ways. Then again, if that story isn’t true, it’s evidence of Cristiano’s problem with the Spanish media. Either way, it’s nothing good.
This is Cristiano’s seventh season with Real Madrid. He’s won La Liga, the Champions League, and two Copa del Rey titles. Individually, he’s added two more Ballon d’Or awards to his total and he’s the club’s all-time leading scorer with an astonishing 347 goals in 332 appearances. There would be absolutely no shame in moving on after this season. And if he does it now, at 31 years old, he still has time to build something special at one more club before age starts to work against him.
Of course, there are only a limited number of clubs outside of Real Madrid and Barcelona that can both afford him and compete at a top level. But given all these reasons, it seems obvious that he could be better off at another club in another country. And no, this hasn’t just been an elaborate attempt to say Cristiano should go back to Man United…but that might work.