It was totally unexpected. The problems with the Spanish tax authorities, coupled with the lack of protection from Real Madrid and even a few whistles heard at the Bernabeu last season, have made Ronaldo lose his temper and announce – for now only in private – that he will actually leave Real Madrid. But the news that followed were even more outstanding. According to information published by the international press, the number 7 could yield to the coffers of the Real something like … 200 million euros. If this is true, there are two records on the verge of being broken.
Let’s start at the beginning, which is to say, the source of the news. At this point everything is speculative, and what is known comes from the extremely prolific Spanish newspapers (and the no less contained English press). According to them, Manchester United could be willing to spend something like 200 million€ to re-hire the player Alex Ferguson shaped more than 10 seasons ago. PSG might have signaled a slightly lower potential offer. In a ‘second row’ there would be several Chinese clubs, which have been betting strong on the European market.
If Ronaldo went out for 200 million euros, he would automatically go to the top of the most expensive transfers ever. In fact, he would be well above the second place, currently occupied by Pogba – and would double the value of his team mate Gareth Bale. The table below shows this virtual accounting, in a scenario in which Ronaldo would leave Real for the aforementioned values.
But it would not be just the this record to be broken. This would also be the first time in history that the first place in the ranking of transfers would be occupied by a player over 30 years old, an age considered to be ‘too much’ for a player of high competition and in which, as a rule, they are no longer worth a millionaire fee.
In fact, big transfers are usually made when the players are at a younger age. Pogba moved to the top spot when he was 23, the same as Bale when he moved from Tottenham to Real Madrid. Ronaldo himself was 24 when he left Manchester. In the list of the 20 biggest transfers, the oldest player is Hulk, who went from Zénit to China when he was 29 years old. The following image shows how nearly half of the players of the TOP 20 were between 27 and 28 when they joined the table.
Is it even possible that Ronaldo costs so much?
A different question, of course, is whether the transfer will actually take place, especially at a time when it is speculated that the news of millionaire proposals are just a strategy set up by Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, to renegotiate his contract with Real Madrid. To what extent is it likely that clubs like Manchester or PSG are even willing to spend nearly 200 million for a 32-year-old player?
Age obviously takes its toll when it comes to top players. Ronaldo cost 94 million euros when he was 24 years old, and today has a smaller ‘life expectancy’ than at the time. Although there are those who say that Ronaldo can play almost until he is 40 years old – he himself seems to share this idea – we all know that a player with four decades is not able to do the same as one with thirty years.
Just remember, for example, the fact that the eternal captain of Roma, Totti, finished his career sitting on the bench of the team – even the gods do not escape the rigors of age. Moreover, the evaluation of the market price made by the website Transfermarkt also shows how the years affect the price of an asset, even when this asset is called Ronaldo.
However, the truth is that Ronaldo continues, at age 32, to be a scoring machine. Although he is older than when he arrived at Real, the future prospects for his scoring ability are perhaps more optimistic now – and this, in principle, should influence his price.
Let’s put things this way: the most expensive forward ever was Higuain, who was hired by Juventus after scoring an average of 0.9 goals per game for Napoli. Once he arrived to Turin, he returned to his usual and historical average: little more than half goal per game. If this track-record was good enough for Juventus to pay 90 million€ for him, is it so crazy to expect that a player with an average almost twice as much costs more or less 200M€?
To this we should add another fact: in addition to what he yields in the field, Ronaldo also means a lot of money outside of the stadium. Real Madrid, for example, has been able to monetize the image of the star, betting on merchandising and other related ways of pocketing money by exploring ‘Ronaldo, the brand’. The lifetime contract with Nike, worth 1,000 million euros, shows well the value that a footballer can today generate in financial terms.