Cristiano Ronaldo needs a new club as much as Paris Saint-Germain needs a new player. Namely, a new “pivot” to play next to Kylian Mbappe, calm the waters, bring back the early-season goals galore and add another bright star to the already blinding ones inhabiting the Parisian sky. Or the PSG squad, for that matter.
Jokes aside, and considering the availability of Olivier Giroud for a free next July as his deal will expire, it might make sense for PSG to wait out this Mbappe drama (Kylidrama? Drambappe?) and just sign the fellow Frenchman for nothing next summer.
It might make even more sense for PSG, though, to extinguish the raging and spreading fire as soon as they can.
Because if we’re honest, who is the face of Paris Saint-Germain? Or, better said and looking ahead, who would be the face of Paris Saint-Germain if Kylian Mbappe, in fact, decides to finish his partnership with PSG as soon as his deal allows him to?
Neymar is 30-years-old and will turn 31 next February. Lionel Messi turned 35 earlier this year. Mbappe, on the other hand, will close 2022 aged 24 without having even started to touch the tip of his prime.
Neymar was expected to leave PSG this past summer but for one reason or another, that didn’t happen. Messi, signed last season thanks to the ultimate lucky break, is already hitting the rumor mill attached to a potential comeback to the city that built him in Barcelona. That’s two-thirds of the MNM, the remaining one being Kylian Mbappe.
See where this is going? From MNM to KM + no-names.
Had I to bet, I’d guess QSI’s head and PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi would not like not having a clear, flashy, top-of-the-order, revenue-generating football star in Paris and inside his constellation.
Getting to the root of this whole mess is the absence of a “pivot” aka a pure No. 9 or lead striker in the Parisian squad. Or at least, that’s Kylian’s perception as he definitely does not consider himself the man to fill that gap.
The solution, as colossal as it might be, could have been sitting right there and waiting for this to happen for the past few weeks and months.
Enter Portuguese one-man-army Cristiano Ronaldo, he of the Erik ten Hag discard pile. A Cristiano Ronaldo who, even though having returned to his second motherland, hasn’t quite found peace in gloomy Manchester.
Ronaldo is the embodiment of dichotomy these days. Does Cristiano Ronaldo make teams better, or worse? That was the headline of an article published by Mark Carey from The Athletic just over three months ago. And that headline surely hit the center of the dartboard.
Ronaldo scored 18 goals last year. That tally was his lowest since 2008-09 when he was still playing football at Old Trafford. Of course, where would Manchester United have finished last season without Cristiano Ronaldo and his goals? That is what Carl Anka labeled The Cristiano Ronaldo Paradox.
Let me highlight some corollaries from the CR Paradox below:
- Ronaldo [is] always likely to score [a lot of goals] as a result of shooting on goal at a high volume.
- [The Paradox] fails to consider the impact of Ronaldo’s particular playing style on attacking teammates.
- Removing Ronaldo from [a team] does not merely take away his goals but dramatically changes the attacking trajectories of all other attacking players around him.
Those brief points define the Portuguese legend as well as one could. Or are they actually defining the attack of PSG as a whole? Are we sure Paris Saint-Germain’s offensive game plan (this season and for years now) is just a microcosm in the need of a Ronaldo-shaped celestial body?
Oh, and it’s not like you can find such a genuine solution to a head-scratching problem with a reported price of as little as €10m. Even more, Manchester United are determined to move on from their early-aughts legend by that, if not less, as long as Ronaldo packs his things together and flies away from Old Trafford’s confines.
What more can Ronaldo ask for?
Paris will instantly deploy Ronaldo, the current Ronaldo, Striker Ronaldo, definitely not Winger Ronaldo, upfront and leading a forward line that would feature Mbappe to his left and Messi to his right. Or, this being PSG, it might actually turn into the Fantastic Four and somehow, someway, it also includes a very angry Neymar.
Ronaldo could finally get a solution to his bench-sitting troubles, too. He would be moving to the City of Lights to outshine it. He would get all of the flashes, and then some. You can already picture it in your head, can’t you?
Start the game, give way to Mbappe on the left, score goals in bunches, put the ball in the net, and instead of pressing, go for a cigarette. As simple as that!
This is, of course, a dream scenario for Ronaldo. Because Ronaldo, realistically, is not entering but actually exiting the final stage of his career, and sitting on a bench and outside of the goalscoring spotlight is surely not feeding his muscular and never-satiated ego.
There are IG feeds to fill. There are Mbappe issues to fix. There is a place. There is a collective waiting. And the fit is just perfect. Nasser, make it happen.