Could anyone justify the exorbitant cost of signing Cristiano Ronaldo?

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Reports are sailing left and right that Cristiano Ronaldo has decided he wants to leave Real Madrid less than a month after winning his second consecutive Champions League title.

This nonsense surfaces every single summer, usually the result of an agent jockeying for a new contract for his client. However, this summer they seem to be more rampant than we have seen in the past, and it has perked up ears not raised previously.

Even if the reports are true, and Ronaldo wants out of Real Madrid, he just last summer signed a contract through the summer of 2021, and that means his only 2 ways out of Spain are the expiration of said contract, or a transfer. Should he not wish to wait four more years, he would require a buyer and a seller to get him a new club.

So with that in mind, is a transfer for Cristiano Ronaldo truly realistic this summer? It doesn’t appear so.

Let’s get two things out of the way right now: There is no way Real Madrid president Florentino Perez lets Ronaldo leave for less than a world record transfer, and there is no way Ronaldo takes a pay cut.

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No matter what his worth on the field is given his talent, age, etc, Cristiano Ronaldo is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Real Madrid just by being Cristiano Ronaldo. He is an icon. His celebrity status, his larger than life persona, and his glittering lifestyle all contribute to dollar signs for the club. A club that purchases Ronaldo isn’t just buying his on-field production, they are buying the biggest celebrity in the game. Therefore, while it’s debatable how much he is actually worth as an anonymous soccer player, he would probably require at least a $130 million transfer fee, if not much, much more.

Secondly, as mentioned above, it’s impossible to imagine Cristiano Ronaldo taking a pay cut. Could he want to leave Real Madrid? Maybe. Is it realistic that he wants to leave Real Madrid enough to give up a significant chunk of his reported $800,000 per-week salary plus hefty bonuses? (Forbes estimates he earned a total of $58 million in salaries and bonuses before taxes last year) Probably not. That mark is more than anything a status symbol, one which Ronaldo is unlikely to relent.

So that leaves us with the following question: would anyone out there be willing to commit around $350 million in total, if not more? What club could justify paying a world record transfer fee and handing out the Premier League’s heftiest salary (by far) for a 32-year-old striker that just forced his way out of a club?

None. Not a single club would be able to financially justify such a hemorrhaging of cash.

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Manchester United, his former club, is the obvious connection and probably the only team that could hurtle cash at such an obvious black hole. But the Red Devils already have one of – if not the – biggest worldwide fanbase in the global game, would they they truly benefit enough from the wave of jersey sales and PR campaigns that would come with the purchase of the game’s biggest superstar? Even the signing of 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic on hefty wages came with some criticism, and the Swedish striker was free.

Paris Saint-Germain is another club that often throws caution to the wind when it comes to the financials, but even if they were to toss logic out the window and sign the papers, would Cristiano Ronaldo consider moving to the French top flight? While Ligue 1 is certainly increasing in talent every year, Ronaldo is keenly aware to hone every minute detail of his reputation, and even the stigma of a drop in competition is unlikely to whet his pallet.

Finally, Manchester City is one that might be able to financially afford the absurdity required for this move, but one big thing stands in his way: competition. With so much attacking talent already on the cards, there’s no way Manchester City would empty the coffers for yet another striker while leaving actual needs like defense untouched.

For every transfer there must be not just a seller but a buyer. Is there a buyer for Cristiano Ronaldo? It doesn’t seem likely at all.