Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid years – Opta data outlines his impact 11 years after joining Los Blancos

By Sports Desk June 26, 2020

Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at Real Madrid was truly phenomenal – there's certainly an argument for him being the greatest signing in the history of the sport.

But when his move from Manchester United to the Santiago Bernabeu was completed on June 26, 2009, there was certainly more than a hint of scepticism.

Let's not forget, when Madrid paid a reported €94million (£80m) for him, Ronaldo became the most expensive footballer ever at the time, breaking a record that had stood for eight years.

There were plenty of people suggesting Madrid had paid over the odds for him, but now we all know what a remarkable signing he was for Los Blancos and Spanish football until his departure for Juventus in 2018.

On the 11th anniversary of Ronaldo joining Madrid, we look back on his time with the club and his legacy, with a little help from Opta.

The early years – finding another level

Ronaldo had already won the Ballon d'Or during his time at Old Trafford, so his quality was never in doubt, but a haul of 33 goals across all competitions in his first season with Los Blancos was an impressive start, particularly given it was an increase of eight on his final campaign in England.

But it was just the tip of the iceberg. As it would turn out, 2009-10 was the only one of Ronaldo's nine seasons with Madrid in which he failed to reach the 40-goal mark.

Granted, the Portugal star played significantly more games over the next few years, but to maintain that consistency – and arguably improve on it – over 50-plus matches without suffering fatigue is genuinely remarkable.

In 2010-11 Ronaldo claimed his first trophy for the club – the Copa del Rey – and had a hand in 69 goals (53 scored, 16 assisted) in 54 matches. He then improved on that further the next year, his 60 goals and 15 assists helping Madrid to their first LaLiga title in four years and the Champions League semi-finals.

By 2012, Ronaldo was already finding himself mentioned in debates regarding the "greatest player of all time" – that would only intensify in the coming years.

Sustaining greatness

The Champions League has long been an obsession of Real Madrid's, and so too it became a major goal of Ronaldo's – after all, three successive last-four eliminations meant five full seasons passed without the forward lifting the famous trophy.

For Madrid, the barren run had been even longer. They'd been chasing 'La Decima' since 2002, but finally, in 2013-14, the wait was over – Ronaldo's 65 goal involvements (51 goals, 14 assists) leading them to a European and Copa del Rey double. His late penalty in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid that saw them crowned Champions League kings took his tally to 17 goals for the season in that competition, a record.

Three more Champions League titles followed over the next four years, though 2014-15 – when Ronaldo enjoyed the best individual season of his career with 61 goals and 21 assists – was the anomaly. He would only score in one of those three finales, however, the 4-1 over future employers Juventus, though he did net the decisive shoot-out spot-kick a year to again break Atletico hearts in 2016.

Ronaldo's final two years in Madrid saw the club win a total of eight trophies, while he scored 86 times and moved level for a while on five Ballon d'Or wins with Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo became synonymous with the Real Madrid brand – it became difficult to imagine the two without each other, but in 2018 they parted ways, ending one of the most iconic player-club associations in modern football.

The legacy

Across his nine years with Madrid, Ronaldo scored 450 goals and laid on another 119. The former figure makes him the club's all-time leading scorer.

He surpassed Raul (323) in October 2015, having already cruised past the like of Ferenc Puskas, Carlos Santillana and Alfredo Di Stefano.

Of those goals, 311 came in LaLiga, a figure only Messi (440) can better – though the Argentina star has spent his entire career in Spanish football.

While all defenders are likely to have been glad to see Ronaldo leave LaLiga, he had a particular penchant for netting against a select few teams. Barcelona (18), Celta Vigo (20), Atletico Madrid (22), Getafe (23) and Sevilla (27) were his most frequent victims.

But it wasn't just LaLiga opposition against whom he thrived – he was the first player to score 10 Champions League goals in seven successive seasons and to reach a haul of 100 in the competition for a single club.

At the age of 35, he continues to excel for Juve in Serie A. But it was with Madrid where his impact was most felt, and it will be a long time before the club see anything even remotely comparable again, if they ever do.

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    ROUND-UP

    - Contracted at Manchester City until 2021, Sergio Aguero may yet stay at the Etihad Stadium a little longer. The Mirror reports City have not ruled out giving the star forward, 32, a one-year extension.

    - With Neymar repeatedly linked with a return to Barcelona, it seems the LaLiga giants are wanting to distance themselves from the Paris Saint-Germain star. Marca says Barca are keen to see the rumours of a potential return for Neymar stop.

    - Staying at Camp Nou and Barcelona apparently have interest in two players from Tottenham. The Daily Star says Barca want Ryan Sessegnon and Tanguy Ndombele. However, it reports Spurs will reject all offers for Sessegnon this close season.

    - Philippe Coutinho's future remains unclear. Mundo Deportivo reports the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona until the end of the season, will not decide his future until after the Champions League next month.

    - Plenty of talk continues to surround Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is coming out of contract at the Premier League club next year. The Daily Star reports the forward will sign a contract extension with Arsenal – if no other club makes an official approach.

    - After just two goals in 25 games for Real Madrid, Luka Jovic seems set for an exit. According to Mundo Deportivo, Juventus, Inter, Chelsea, Leicester City, Milan and Napoli are all considering moves for the forward.

  • Atalanta deserved to beat Juventus, says proud Gasperini Atalanta deserved to beat Juventus, says proud Gasperini

    Gian Piero Gasperini was proud of Atalanta after a 2-2 draw with Juventus, but felt his side deserved to win.

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    "I'm definitely more proud. We played great in the first half and in the second half there was a comeback by Juve," he told a news conference.

    "But with our play, we managed to take the lead and play a great game anyway. Of course, we are also upset because we deserved to win.

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    With six games left to play in Serie A, Atalanta are third in the table, nine points adrift of Juventus.

  • Ronaldo handles pressure in an incredible way – Sarri praises Juventus star Ronaldo handles pressure in an incredible way – Sarri praises Juventus star

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    Ronaldo converted two spot-kicks in Turin on Saturday as Juve took another step towards the Serie A title.

    The Portugal international cancelled out Duvan Zapata's opener before securing a point in the 90th minute after Ruslan Malinovskiy had restored Atalanta's lead.

    Sarri, whose side are eight points clear at the top with six games to play, hailed Ronaldo's ability to handle the pressure.

    "He is a champion with his feet but also with his head," Sarri told a news conference.

    "He manages to handle the pressures he has on him in an incredible way."

    Juventus were coming off a 4-2 loss to Milan on Tuesday, and maintained a nine-point lead over third-placed Atalanta.

    Sarri felt Juventus deserved their point, with their busy run of fixtures continuing against Sassuolo on Wednesday.

    "Tonight's point was sweaty and deserved. We drew against one of the best teams in Europe, and it's a very important result," he said.

    "Merit goes to a second half of quality, in which we attacked Atalanta higher, while focusing on their physical decline, and we scored goals in our best moment.

    "The game in Milan, in which we played well for a long time, could have left us with waste. In the first half we suffered, but in the second half we came out well.

    "The Scudetto race is by no means closed, there are still 18 points available. It is a very difficult phase of the season, the games are very expensive, and it is difficult to find continuity."

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