Time right for Ronaldo and Real Madrid to finally part ways

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
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The five-time Ballon d'Or winner seems set on a move to Serie A in the coming days, but his sale would not necessarily be bad news for Los Blancos

Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid have been here before. This time, however, feels different and it will be if the Portuguese forward completes a transfer to Juventus in the next few days.

If that does happen, and Goal understands the player is closer than ever to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu , it is likely to be a sad moment for fans of Los Blancos. For the club, though, it may just be the best possible time to let their star man move on.

Ronaldo moved to Real from Manchester United in the summer of 2009 for a fee of €94 million (£80m/$132m) and has given the Spanish side the best years of his career, scoring an amazing 450 goals in 438 games for Los Blancos and winning 16 trophies along the way, including four Champions League crowns.

Talk of a departure is nothing new. Ronaldo first complained back in 2012 at being unhappy with Madrid, saying after a 3-0 win over Granada in September that year that he was sad and that the club knew why.

That was eventually resolved, but a bombshell broke last summer as it was reported in the Portuguese press, by sources close to the player, that he had decided to leave Real Madrid. Once again, however, he stayed.

And after winning the Champions League for a third successive season with Los Blancos at the end of May, Ronaldo hinted to Spanish television on the pitch in Kiev that he may have played his last match for the club .

"In the next few days, I will give an answer to the fans, who have always been by my side," he said. "It has been really special to play for Real Madrid." Later, in the mixed zone, he admitted that he should have kept quiet, but added that he did not regret his comments either.

Again it appeared that Ronaldo would end up staying, with his remarks looking likely to have been a tactic to secure a pay rise and a bumper new contract. However, the 33-year-old denied that theory. "It comes from a long time back," he said. "It's not about money."

Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus Real Madrid Champions League

Ronaldo's relationship with Madrid president Florentino Perez is cordial, but has never been warm and this time, it seems the club chief is content to leave the ball in Cristiano's court.

Had he left in any of the previous summers, it would have been a big drama for Real Madrid and if he does depart now, it still will be. But nothing like it would have been had he gone before.

With four Champions League wins in the past five seasons, Ronaldo has helped Los Blancos to spectacular success in Europe, yet they cannot claim the continent's biggest prize every year and eventually, the club will need to rebuild.

Mario Mandzukic Alex Sandro Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Juventus UEFA Champions League

Last season, the Portuguese's problems in front of goal in the first half of La Liga (in which he netted only four times and two of those from penalties) saw Zinedine Zidane's side lose ground in the Primera Division. And they were never able to make up that deficit.

Cristiano still scored freely in the Champions League, but is having to be increasingly rested now in La Liga and given the success of recent seasons, Madrid may feel they can finally think about a future without their famous forward.

At the age of 33 and five months, it is unclear how long he will be able to continue at his current level, anyway, and the chance of selling a player that age for €100m (£88.5m/$117m) is perhaps an opportunity not to be missed for Los Blancos.

Florentino Perez Cristiano Ronaldo

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He will have to be replaced, of course, with the two top targets both at Paris Saint-Germain: Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Either would cost mega money, but the investment would be longer term. The Brazilian (who shares a birthday, February 5, with Ronaldo) is 26, the Frenchman just 19.

Selling Ronaldo would also remove a significant sum from the wage bill at the Bernabeu and that too would help fund a deal for a new star signing. And tactically, it may also be beneficial for new coach Julen Lopetegui to work with less of an individualist than the Portuguese, although Neymar perhaps falls into that same category.

Whatever does happen, no tears need be shed. Ronaldo is a Real Madrid legend and always will be, but at some stage the club have to move on and €100m is an amazing price for a player who will be 34 next February. Sentiment aside, it might just be the right deal at the right time for everyone concerned.