If you don’t watch much Spanish football and are wondering how badly Real Madrid are missing Cristiano Ronaldo, just look at the La Liga table.
It’s extremely rare to see Los Blancos outside of the top three; however, the reigning European champions currently find themselves sixth in the table after the first 12 games of the 2018-19 campaign.
It’s been a disastrous start to the season for Madrid, who confirmed that Santiago Solari was the club’s new permanent manager earlier this week after sacking Julen Lopetegui last month.
They’ve only scored 20 league goals this season, while their +4 goal difference is inferior to Barcelona’s, Sevilla’s, Atletico Madrid’s, Deportivo’s and even Espanyol’s.
Ronaldo averaged 50 goals a season during his nine seasons at the Bernabeu - and although Madrid’s woes this season aren’t solely down to the Portuguese superstar’s departure, there’s no doubt the La Liga giants are struggling without his goals.
Madrid’s loss has undoubtedly been Juventus’s gain. Many football fans thought Ronaldo would struggle to score goals in Serie A - because of his advancing years - but the 33-year-old is currently in the process of making those doubters look foolish.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has already scored nine goals in his first 15 appearances for Juve. Eight of those goals have come in Serie A.
Diego Maradona has been asked about Madrid’s decision to sell Ronaldo in an interview with the Spanish newspaper Marca - and the football legend thinks he knows the real reason Florentino Perez sold him for £100 million in the summer.
“I think that it was a good move for Cristiano,” Maradona began. “He gave his all to Madrid, he wasn't enjoying it as much as he does now in Italian football and Florentino is always planning.
“When he saw Ronaldo was only getting a goal a game he sold him.”
Interesting. Maradona reckons Perez got rid of Ronaldo because he was only scoring a goal a game towards the end of his Madrid spell, instead of braces and hat-tricks.
It seems he believes that Perez thought Ronaldo was in the early stages of decline.
Asked if Madrid are missing Ronaldo, Maradona added: “Clearly yes but I always say that a player doesn't make a club. Madrid will recover, they will win again, they have a great squad but the truth is that Ronaldo continues to score goals and people will say why was he sold.
“I always say that Florentino is clever and if he let him go it was for a reason.”
Judging by these comments, Maradona clearly feels Perez’s decision to sell Ronaldo for £100 million will look smart in the long run.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, recently confirmed that Perez played a big part in his decision to leave Madrid.
“I felt it inside the club, especially from the president, that they no longer considered me the same way that they did in the start,” the prolific forward was quoted as saying by the Guardian last month. “In the first four or five years there I had the feeling of being ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. Less afterwards. The president looked at me through eyes that didn’t want to say the same thing, as if I was no longer indispensable to them, if you know what I mean.
“That’s what made me think about leaving. Sometimes I’d look at the news, where they were saying I was asking to leave. There was a bit of that but the truth is I always had the impression the president would not hold me back. If it had all been about money, I’d have moved to China, where I would have earned five times as much than here [at Juventus] or at Real. I did not come to Juve for the money. I earned the same in Madrid, if not more. The difference is that, at Juve, they really wanted me. They told me that and made it clear.” They showed me that.
“The truth is that the president wanted me but, at the same time, he made it known to me that my departure would not constitute a problem.