Ronaldo and Messi, fading stars won’t make your football club any better | Cristiano Ronaldo

IIn Tudor times there was little more sinister for a British nobleman than the honor of a monarch’s home visit. Oh no. He is back. The man with the week-long pheasant-eating, drunken mass banquet in his eyes.

Attempts were sometimes made to close the windows and simply hide on these occasions. Otherwise, the sight of the royal train looming on the horizon, with its legions of cooks, soldiers, court jesters, smart boys, and clothed hangers-on, was a harbinger of bankruptcy, cattle slaughtered, fields destroyed, and general devastation of anything within reach.

In 1602, Elizabeth I’s court appeared at Lord Egerton’s Harefield Hall and, over the course of a single three-day party, consumed 676 chickens, 96 pigeons, 59 rabbits, 23 ducklings, 20 pigs, 38 partridges and 24 lobsters at a cost of £10million – though no doubt accompanied by some really sick embroidery posts added to the personal tapestry feed.

When it comes to conspicuous excess, it’s not hard to find a parallel with football. Where Renaissance kings lead, football will inevitably follow, and in recent years there has been something of the royal tour of the end of the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi era. There they come again, this pair of aging deities, still giving off light and warmth, still raking at the eyeballs, but also scorching the ground and stealing the air from the sky, turned into some kind of sporty plutonium.

It seems pretty clear that Ronaldo will be back on track this summer. You can hardly blame him. There is a duality here. For all his cute size, Ronaldo is a pure sports monster: he just wants to win. But follow the money and right now, he’s also the biggest celebrity revenue stream the esports world has ever seen. Ronaldo makes £2million from every sponsored post on Instagram. It would be simply negligent for anyone associated with this sporting-industrial complex to allow him to spend his 38th year playing against Gent, Omonia and Lechia Gdansk. Manchester United played this match. You are now on the other side of it.

The rumors linking Ronaldo with Chelsea vaguely circled this week. Word is the new owners are interested in what would be the first really obvious red flag of the new era. Because make no mistake, signing Ronaldo would be a disaster, as it would be for any serious sporting unit.

It seems deeply odd that it is still necessary to say this out loud that the idea of ​​roping either one of Ronaldo or Messi into your orbit is not immediately ignored as absurd, the subject of fan protests and angry tirades from concerned club legends.

It was already clear last summer that Ronaldo’s move to United and Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain would end in expensive failure. Partly because anyone willing to pay that much for the light of a dying star is going to ruin your club one way or another. And partly because of the apparent devastation, the royalty, the fact that it’s just impossible to live with that presence for long.

Behold my light, for I am Death: Since the beginning of 2020, Ronaldo has had six club managers while Messi burned five. If Ronaldo shows up at Chelsea, we can probably round that up to eight, taking Thomas Tuchel and whoever replaces him (Jesse Marsch? An older Kardashian?), which will happen because Tuchel is a purist and systems man, his entire Shtick based on it docile, punchy footballer versus an aging Andy Warhol-printed super athlete.

Cristiano Ronaldo played for Manchester United at Brighton last season
Cristiano Ronaldo scored 18 league goals last season but Manchester United’s total plummeted. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

which is ok Managers come and go. But will Ronaldo Make your team better? Amazingly, this still seems to be a real question. We should probably do that quickly here. The obvious answer is no, he won’t.

The confusion is understandable because it relates to the most basic of numbers. Nobody has scored more league goals in a single season for United since Alex Ferguson left. How can the jubilant goalscorer be the problem?

But of course the question isn’t if a half-speed genius is still a genius, or if Ronaldo is better at finishing than Marcus Rashford (Answer: yes, and he will be by the time he’s 87 and doing his daily global abs performs on a pair of Robot Super Legs).

The question is whether you build such a team. And the other numbers are easy too. United scored 57 league goals with Ronaldo. In four previous seasons without him, they scored 73, 66, 65 and 68 goals respectively. While Ronaldo was replenishing his high points, every other striker at the club fell off a cliff. Any notion of a grooved gaming system fell apart. As they said in Italy, Ronaldo is the solution to the problem he is causing. Oh no, we can’t play like an elite, tactically and physically complete modern team. But wait. Luckily we have a brilliant sniper striker that can still make us almost competitive.

In the end, viewed purely through the lens of sport, the answer is clear. Signing Ronaldo would make Chelsea a less effective team. But of course that’s not really what’s happening, is it? And that is the sadness of Ronaldo-Messi, the late years when these two sources of light and joys of the last two decades have become a sort of tell, catnip for two separate models of toxic ownership: the investor class, fueled by the craze, the commercial success, the immediate rise in the share price; and the nation-state power project designed to gain weight, status, and PR gains.

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There’s something sickening about watching these pure sports talents get pawed and armed by football’s billionaire class, like aging movie idols in the arms of a sweating studio investor; and in the process becoming just another sign of how the unverified billionaire model will eventually overwhelm this sport. A source of hope for half the population’s footballing future, the women’s Super League TV deal is worth £8million a year, or just over three CR7 social media posts. What is the point of endlessly enriching these people? The market can demand it. But the market will also dry up the ground beneath your feet.

Above all, there is a sadness in this, because this basic status is deserved. These are perhaps the two greatest club players of all time, footballers who somehow stayed oddly pure in their golden years, a clean warm square of light amidst all this greed and hunger. The sport would have taken care of their escape route in a past life, guiding even their most brilliant stars to a place where they can still thrive. The modern version claims that they are still kings, royal households, emperors who insist on their mandate, hiding in the palace and refusing to disappear from view, sucking the light with them as they fall.

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