2021 has been quite a year, and it’s been a year of international tournaments, individual brilliance, money-making transfers, heartbreaking goodbyes, homecomings, and of course, dreams coming true for certain individuals. Amid all this, names like Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, and Kylian Mbappe often steal the limelight. Still, the one person we do forget quite ironically is the 36 – year old Portuguese sensation Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo finished 6th in this year’s Ballon d’Or ranking. Yes, you read it right, sixth. That is the lowest standing achieved by el Bicho since 2010. While this sets the impression that Ronaldo has not been at his best, the stats tell a different story altogether.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 46 goals this year and nine assists in 61 games. 55 goal contributions for a 36-year-old player who is supposed to be in the twilight of his glittering career. These stats seem even more impressive when one realizes that the Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi has scored fewer goals than 6th placed Cristiano Ronaldo this year.
While some might argue for a successful international campaign, people are quick to forget that Ronaldo won the golden boot at this Year’s Euros. The feat is even more impressive because Portugal was placed in the group of death along with Germany, France, and Hungary.
However, the question which arises is that despite the numbers, personal accolades, and trophies, what went wrong for Cristiano this year?
The answer, however, is quite simple, nothing. Ronaldo once again did what he always does; while that might not have reaped the most optimal rewards for him, he makes a fair case for labelling 2021 as a successful year.
The problem, however, arises with the media and the fans. While it all seems unjust, it does feel like the footballing industry has taken the exceptional gift of Longevity of one of the most talented footballers of this generation for granted.
How often have we seen these numbers from an athlete into his mid-thirties while playing in two of the most tactically astute leagues in the world and not to forget one of the most challenging European championships over the past decade? While people are quick to applaud his counterpart Lionel Messi, there has been little fuss over his struggles in a super team despite being in one of the least competitive leagues in the world. His failure has certainly made little impact in his Ballon d’Or campaign.
The question remains: Is it fair to have different standards for different players while they all fight for the same goals throughout the season? While people are quick to point out excuses such as “Ronaldo is a poacher” and “he cannot dribble”, it can be fairly said they are unaware of the real picture because the mainstream media never portray it.
Cristiano Ronaldo completed the most dribbles for a Juventus player last season, despite having the likes of Chiesa and Dybala in the roster and playing as a CF. he was one of the most effective dribblers with a success percentage of 65.8% out of all the dribbles he attempted in the league. He was also ranked among the top 5 players last year for producing the most Shot Creating actions last year. All of this at the age of 35 while playing in possibly the worst Juventus squad of the past decade. The pictures below show the difference in his dribbles per game since leaving real Madrid. Along with his heatmap for Juventus.
Not to forget how he has continued to dismiss the notions of not scoring “meaningful Goals”, last year alone, his goals won Juventus an excess of 15 points in the league. The same has continued this season for Manchester United, where all his Champions League goals have made the difference between United advancing to the next round or being knocked out of the group stage. To add to this impressive feat, all his 13 goals for United have come when they were drawing or losing/lead-taking goals in clutch moments.
The latest person to raise fingers at Ronaldo was no one else but Jamie Carragher, pointing out how the 36-year-old Portuguese does not work off the ball. Still, as it has always been like, Ronaldo tends to shut down his critics in the best manner possible, and he did so again by earning praise from his new manager Ralph Rangnick for his immense work while pressing and playing Off the ball.
The conclusion is simple, Ronaldo continues to do what he does best along with busting one myth after another regarding his style of play; the question, which, however, remains, is that is his genius being overlooked by the football world and industry due to awards being based on the votes of journalists? The answer lies within you, and it may differ based on your agendas.