Has Real Madrid already seen the best of Cristiano Ronaldo?

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To suggest that Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps in some way over the hill is a little fanciful.

Some might say that anyone making such claims really knows nothing about the game of football.

After all, here we have a player that was recently voted the Best Player in Europe, is the reigning FIFA Ballon D'Or holder and scored a breathtaking 17 goals in last season's Champions League campaign.

The roll call of his achievements in Spain is practically endless.

255 goals in his last 250 club games for Real Madrid is the stuff of legend, so why is there even a hint of a suggestion that Cristiano's best days are behind him.

The main issue that Los Blancos finest is confronted with at this stage of his career is tendonosis of the knee, a degenerative condition that will not get any better.

Insisting on continuing to play every minute of every game will see a more rapid deterioration.

Long term damage

Madrid themselves are keen to minimise any long-term damage. A club source told

"Cristiano always wants to play and it's that competitive streak that makes him the player he is, but he knows he will need to rest more to avoid a constant recurrence of this problem.

The club are delighted to see him training at full pace as in previous years, but there is still some concern over how he will respond over the whole season.

Mr. Ancelotti was a top player himself and he has told Ronaldo - as have the medical staff - there there will be times this season when he will need to rest."

Shortly to turn 30 years of age, Ronaldo isn't getting any younger and for his career to have any sort of longevity at this point, he must take heed of the advice from those around him.

His body simply isn't up to the rigours of 60+ games of football per season anymore, however hard that is for the Portuguese to accept.

Not happy

Injuries aside, Ronaldo's tenure in Madrid doesn't appear to be a happy one at present, despite the recent addition of another Champions League to add to his staggering personal list of honours achieved in the game.

The sales of Angel Di Maria to Manchester United and Xabi Alonso to Bayern Munich have got right under the skin of Ronaldo.

Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror reports his words at the time of Alonso's departure:

“I have strong opinions but I can’t always say what I think. Otherwise it would be on the front page and I don’t want that. But if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have done so."

Hardly the sort of language to endear him to club President Florentino Perez. Nor is a public courting of his old club.

Return to Manchester

It's clear that Manchester United is a club in his heart, and he afforded them the ultimate respect by refusing to celebrate when helping to knock them out of the Champions League in 2013.

That he continues to make very public overtures in their direction is unprofessional and dare we say it, a little embarrasing - Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't need to go cap in hand to any potential suitors.

It hints at a yearning to work elsewhere and a desire for pastures new.

Ask yourself, is it really possible to give your best for your employers when your heart longs for something different?

Being dropped for the sake of his own wellbeing will be a sensible and necessary move from Real, but a lack of minutes could accelerate any wanderlust.

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