Cristiano Ronaldo will still continue to jump out at us from the pages of glossy magazines and grace us with his social media presence but I fear this is the final straight for one of the most dominant footballers on the planet.
For a decade he has been super-human, performing remarkable feats on the football field and astounding us with what can be achieved with dedication, imagination and natural talent.
The stats are still impressive, he will be Real Madrid’s leading scorer for the eighth year in a row and he should lead them to their first title in five years, maybe even another Champions League success.
In the summer though he has a big decision to make, does he continue to don the number seven shirt of the Spanish giants or does he spend his autumn years spreading the gospel in one of the developing football nations?
He’s still a top class talent but I would argue that his “wow factor” at the very highest level has diminished. His body may be immaculately chiselled and he works on his boyish looks but the fact is that he is 32 years of age and he’s played flat out for a decade and a half.
He no longer has the turbo charge, the step-overs are kept in the closet and defenders aren’t so terrified when he gets onto the ball these days. He still has presence, he seems to levitate when leaping and his shots fizzle but he is having to reinvent his game to suit his age.
“CR7” is a boyish image, all about exuberance and extravagance, what he won’t want to do is reinvent the brand. People will point to the likes of Ryan Giggs and argue that he continued well into his fourth decade but the difference is that he was happy to have a manager pick and choose the games that he starred in, I can’t see Cristiano allowing that.
Ronaldo could cite Zlatan Ibrahimovic who continues to shine above all others but his game was never about speed and chicanery.
The contract at Real Madrid runs until 2021 when he will be 36. At that age he will still have his usefulness but let’s face it, it’s not about usefulness with him, it is all about being the centre of attention.
Crazy salaries have been paid to those willing to head to China and subscribe to their footballing revolution, few have been justified. Cristiano Ronaldo would be worth every penny of the investment as they would get a superstar concentrating his final few years to an emerging footballing market. David Beckham did it in the USA, Ronaldo could follow him over the Atlantic to the MLS but maybe he deserves his own part of the planet football to dominate?
He’s great for the Spanish game, an absolute pleasure to commentate on as you have to prepare for the unexpected, but that unexpected is occurring slightly less these days.