After nine legendary years, Cristiano Ronaldo has left the confines of the Bernabéu. And this time, it's for good.
Juventus paid Real Madrid 112 million euro (131 million dollars) to pick up the 33-year-old super human. Ronaldo is just the seventh player in history to be acquired on a 100 million euro+ transfer, and he's also the oldest in that group by over four years.
This is also the most expensive transfer in Italian soccer history and the highest for a player born in neither Brazil nor France. CR7 is the only player in history to have two separate transfers be in the top 10 of most expensive transfers. His move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 cost 94 million euro (110.3 million dollars) and was the highest in the world from 2009 to 2013.
So to say Ronaldo isn't leaving without making more history is an understatement.
Regardless, the reigning Ballon d'Or holder was responsible for bringing Real Madrid back to it's former glory. He did so well, in fact, that there was an image going around over a month ago stating that Madrid's higher ups were planning to expand their trophy room in order to fit more gold.
He played in 438 total games, scored 450 goals, and completed 119 assists from 2009 to 2018. His personal highlights read like the longest rap sheet you'll find for a prisoner on death row. He won four Ballon d'Ors with Los Blancos, as well as three Golden Shoes.
Like Tom Brady, he appeared to get better with age, winning two of the Ballon d'Ors after turning 30. And with his personal success, the trophies started pouring into the Bernabéu once again.
Before arriving at Real, Los Blancos hadn't won a Copa del Rey tournament since 1993. They won two with CR7.
Before arriving, Madrid hadn't competed in, let alone won, a Champions League Final since 2002. They won four with him, including a previously unprecedented three in a row.
And before arriving, Madrid had seemingly lost it's swagger. They became an afterthought to arch nemesis, Barcelona, after losing the OG Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane in the early to mid 2000s.
And thanks to CR7, Real Madrid has become THE CLUB that everyone wants to play for.
Cristiano Ronaldo's record at Real Madrid:— InfoCristiano (@InfoCristiano) July 10, 2018
La Liga: 292 apps, 311 goals, 88 assists
UCL: 101 apps, 105 goals, 27 assists
CdR: 30 apps, 22 goals, 3 assists
Supercopa: 7 apps, 4 goals
UEFA Super Cup: 2 apps, 2 goals
CWC: 6 apps, 6 goals, 2 assists pic.twitter.com/sur2mQofPy
Ronaldo wrote in his official statement that "These years at Real Madrid, and in this city of Madrid, were possibly the happiest of my life."
He goes on to say "Real Madrid has won my heart, and my family, so more than ever I want to say thank you: thank the club, the President, the directors, my colleagues, all technicians, doctors, psysios, and workers incredible that make it all work and are pending tirelessly every detail."
Ronaldo is certainly a different man now after nine years at the Bernabéu. He became a father to four children who have all only known him as a Real Madrid player. He has become the most highly marketable athlete on the face of the planet. And he upped his net worth to nearly a half a billion dollars.
Like a certain king from Akron, this child of Funchal became an icon and a brand known worldwide.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s goodbye letter to Real Madrid fans after joining Juventus. pic.twitter.com/HgEqTRupDS— Football Planet (@FoootballPlanet) July 10, 2018
A report from Bleacher Report's Dean Jones indicated that not all is well in Madrid, as would be expected. He writes,
"This transfer is a major blow to Real ... an embarrassment even ... Florentino Perez is under huge pressure to replace Ronaldo with a galactico fit to fill his boots."
And while it appears that the fire may be inching ever closer to Real's President, it should come as no surprise that names like Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar have been and continue to be names thrown around soccer discussion groups online as possibly heirs to Ronaldo's kingdom.
Will Perez be able to bag one of these incredible talents before La Liga begins in August? Most likely yes. Belgium, for instance, was just eliminated from the World Cup this afternoon. That means that negotiations could, in theory, begin between Real and Chelsea for Hazard as early as today.
But let's just stop the head cannon right there, shall we? And let's get to the heart of the matter and take a brief look at how this is affecting those who played with Ronaldo for several years. Real Madrid's captain, Sergio Ramos, took to Twitter this afternoon to thank "Bicho" for everything he's done for the team.
.@Cristiano, your goals, your numbers and everything we've won together speak for themselves. You have earned a special place in the history of @RealMadrid. As Madridistas we'll remember you always. It's been a pleasure to play alongside you, bicho. Big hig and good luck! 🍀👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/NaywaDd3gw— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) July 10, 2018
This move has and will continue to ripple all around the soccer world. This is easily the biggest and most important transfer since Neymar shipped off to PSG last year. And it is the biggest in sports, no offense LeBron.
However, just for once, there wasn't any spitting or name calling, there was only gratitude. And in a few years, Ronaldo WILL return to the Bernabéu. But it won't be to suit up to play another match, it will be to witness the unveiling of a statue in his likeness that will serve as a reminder as to how this one cybernetic man meant so much to a team that was drowning in their history.
And whether or not we look at Real as the hero or the villain, admit it, La Liga will feel just a little bit empty next season.
(Note: Yes, this is the only article about Ronaldo that doesn't mention his greatest rival. Look for that "An ode to" article coming next week.)