So long, Cristiano!

Ronaldo topped forty goals in each of his last eight seasons.
Ronaldo topped forty goals in each of his last eight seasons. / EFE
  • What will Real Madrid's next move be? Hand over the mantle to Bale and Asensio, or go out and buy another 'galáctico'?

The key for any great performer is to forget the encore and depart leaving the crowd wanting more. Cristiano Ronaldo bid 'adiós' to Real Madrid after nine incredible seasons at just the right time; everyone is a winner.

Juventus have acquired a world-class talent, Real have pocketed a fair fee and the player can see out his days with a lucrative wage without having to learn Chinese or play alongside American players who'd be in awe of him.

The timing was perfect. Ronaldo dug deep to lead Real Madrid to a record third successive Champions League title. His brilliance in the European competition was largely the reason they succeeded. However his slow start to last season was the reason the club lagged well behind Barcelona in the Spanish Championship.

He leaves a legacy of fifteen major team trophies plus the four Balon D'Ors he won personally. He topped forty goals for each of his last eight seasons. The man was phenomenal and probably still will be in the slightly more considered pace of Serie A. The fee, 100 million euros, is the fifth most expensive transfer of all time and his contract takes him to the age of 37.

It's outrageous to think that a player of his age can move for that amount of money but he breaks every rule. Andrés Iniesta and Wayne Rooney are a similar age and are seeing out their autumn years by taking their talent to emerging markets. Don't be surprised if Ronaldo does that in 2022 and still commands a 50-million-euro fee!

So what does this mean for Real Madrid? How do they replace their greatest player of all time?

The easy answer is to invest in the next 'galáctico'. Neymar has been making eyes at Florentino Peréz for quite a while now but will he fall for it?

The Brazilian is a marquee name, he will sell shirts but I don't think he'll weigh in with the forty plus goals per season that Ronaldo contributed.

The dream signing would be Kylian Mbappé. He does look to be the next big thing as he's lit up the World Cup. I would imagine that Paris St Germain will resist any approaches as it has taken them a year to finalise the 166-million-euro deal to keep him in France.

This is good news for Gareth Bale. He bid Cristiano a sporting farewell on social media but deep down he must be delighted that the centre of the stage will finally be his. If Ronaldo hadn't departed then I'm sure that the Bernabéu wouldn't be big enough for the two of them and the Welshman would have been heading back to the Premier League.

Bale is possibly the biggest winner in the whole saga. After a nightmare year with injuries he was beginning to regain his powers at the season's finale, culminating with his match-winning performance in the Champions League final. He was of course left waiting in the wings but with Ronaldo's parting he should be the focus of attention again.

The other player to benefit should be Asensio. He's undoubtedly one of the most outstanding young talents in world football but his appearances were restricted because of the abundance of creative types.

I imagine that Bale and Asensio led the three cheers when Cristiano was saying goodbye, but they'll end abruptly if, or should I say when, Neymar prances through the door.