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Coral Predicts: Life after Ronaldo for Real Madrid

The Ballon d’Or holder will slow down eventually

It almost seems hard to imagine, but at some point in the not-too-distant future, Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Real Madrid.

It may be to retire or he might continue his career in MLS, as he’s hinted at previously. Whatever he decides, the day will come when he moves away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

He’s cemented his position as one of the all-time greats at Madrid. The 32-year-old has helped the Spanish giants to win three Champions League titles, La Liga twice and two Copa del Rey titles.

He’s scored an astonishing 411 goals in 401 games to become the club’s all-time top goalscorer too. The then-record £80m fee to sign him from Manchester United in 2009 looks like a bargain now.

Ronaldo will be impossible to directly replace and Madrid will need to plan carefully for life without him.

The Coral News Team have had a look at how it could go…

On-the-pitch

Over the years Ronaldo has evolved from a tricky winger into a devastatingly effective goalscorer. In 2012-13, the Portugal international averaged 1.89 successful take-ons and created 2.05 chances per 90 minutes in La Liga. Last season, those figures dropped to 0.89 take-ons and 1.06 chances created.

Now in his 30s, he conserves his energy and focuses on finishing moves. Last season, he took 4.01 shots per 90 in the box, up from 3.61 in 2012-13. At the same time, his shots from outside the area fell dramatically from 4.17 per 90 to just 1.74.

One reason Ronaldo is able to concentrate on scoring is Karim Benzema’s clever movement helps to occupy defenders and maintain the team’s structure.

Benzema’s work helps to bring the best out of Ronaldo, but he’s not a prolific goalscorer himself. The 29-year-old has only scored over 20 league goals twice in eight full seasons at the Bernabeu. When Ronaldo goes, the club will likely need to bring in a striker who can help to replace his goals.

If Gareth Bale can stay fit, he could benefit from Ronaldo’s departure. Both are athletic wingers who like to cut inside from the wing to shoot at goal. But their focus on goalscoring means that playing both of them can leave the side short of creativity in the final third.

The side looked more balanced when Isco filled in for Bale last season. Ronaldo leaving would open the door for Bale to play his natural game.

Possible Replacements

Marco Asensio – Zinedine Zidane may not have to look too far for someone to take Ronaldo’s place on the left flank. Marco Asensio is still only 21-years-old but he looks ready to play at the highest level.

The Spain international scored in the Champions League quarter-final and final last term. And he struck in both legs of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona this season.

Asensio can play wide or through the middle and he glides past opponents. He may not score as many goals as Ronaldo (who would?) but he has a thunderous shot from distance too.

Eden Hazard – Eden Hazard would satisfy Florentino Perez’s desire for star players. He’s got the quality to shine on the pitch too.

The Belgium international has lit up the Premier League with his displays on the left for Chelsea. He’s an electric dribbler – his skill and low centre of gravity make it very hard to stop him in full flight.

Hazard’s arrival could make Madrid more pleasing on the eye, but he’d need to increase his goalscoring output to fill Ronaldo’s shoes.

Paulo Dybala – Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are head and shoulders above the rest of the world, but Paulo Dybala is a member of the select group that could eventually replace them as the game’s truly elite individuals.

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann are there with him, though Dybala is probably the most attainable for Madrid.

The Juventus forward has started this season in sensational form with 10 goals in seven league appearances. The 23-year-old will only continue to improve in the years to come.

Off-the-Pitch

Ronaldo is one of the most recognisable athletes in the world. For Real Madrid, a club obsessed with glitz and glamour, that’s almost as important as his performances.

His departure will leave a huge void that will probably need to be filled by more than one individual.

He’ll also be missed in the dressing room. For all of his perceived arrogance, he’s an incredibly driven person.

The former Manchester United star’s work on the training pitch turned him into the player he is today. He rarely misses a game and sets an example to all aspiring youngsters with his professionalism.

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