Ronaldo joins Al Nassr: The glorious European legacy left by a true great

    Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Pro League team Al Nasr looks set to end one of the greatest careers in European football history.

    While it’s always unwise to write off Ronaldo, the combination of the striker’s age and the dubious nature of his second spell at Manchester United makes a return to European football’s elite unlikely.

    As a five-time Champions League winner and top scorer in European football’s premier club competition, Ronaldo remains one of the greatest players of all time.

    However, with seven major league titles and a host of other trophies, Ronaldo’s impact on the continental game goes beyond his goals in the biggest club scene.

    As the five-time Ballon d’Or winner heads to Riyadh after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with Al Nasr, Stats Perform looks back on his seismic impact on European club football.

    Ronaldo’s appearance in the Premier League

    Ronaldo’s return to the Premier League may not have gone according to plan – the 37-year-old has only scored one goal this season before an explosive interview with Piers Morgan led to his departure from Old Trafford.

    However, the three-time Premier League winner has certainly made his mark in England, scoring 103 goals in 236 top division appearances for United.

    Bursting onto the scene as a cunning winger, Ronaldo recorded 37 assists in competition for the Red Devils, whom he also helped to their third European title in 2008.

    He also won his first Manchester Ballon d’Or in 2008, scoring 31 goals in a winning 2007-08 campaign. This single-season record was the best by three players in the tournament’s history.

    Make history with Madrid in La Liga

    Ronaldo may be considered a legend at United, but it was at Real Madrid that he truly rose to prominence as one of the greatest footballers, becoming Los Blancos’ top scorer with 450 goals in all competitions.

    Incredibly, the Portuguese striker has averaged more goals per game throughout his trophy-rich spell in Spain, hitting 311 goals in 292 La Liga games.

    Ronaldo has shot 16% of his shots for Madrid, which is higher than in the Premier League, Serie A or the Champions League.

    Madrid may be famous for their Champions League accomplishments, but Ronaldo also helped them to two national titles in 2011-12 and 2016-17, scoring 46 goals as José Mourinho’s side scored 100 points in the first of those campaigns.

    Success in Serie A with the Bianconeri

    Given Juventus’ failure to win the Champions League, few see Ronaldo’s stay in Turin as an unqualified success. However, the raw numbers suggest otherwise.

    After scoring 81 goals in 98 league games for a club in perpetual crisis with a conversion rate of 15%, you will learn how Ronaldo developed in Serie A, honing his game as the best striker in the penalty area in his advanced years.

    Despite a turbulent period when Maurizio Sarri replaced Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus extended their incredible streak of success in the Scudetto to nine consecutive seasons.

    This tenure ended with Ronaldo’s last full campaign at the Allianz Stadium, although he still finished as Serie A’s top scorer with 29 goals.

    Champions League Master

    For those who consider Ronaldo the greatest player, the Portuguese striker’s Champions League exploits are always a deciding factor, a bargaining chip.

    Ronaldo’s record of 140 goals in the competition is unmatched, although his great rival Lionel Messi (129) may have something to say about it if he refuses to follow his fellow footballer’s example by leaving Europe.

    After averaging nearly one goal per game (180 in 183 games), Ronaldo has won a staggering 115 Champions League games to win the trophy five times, a record total.

    As Madrid solidified its status as European masters by winning three consecutive titles in the 2015–16 and 2017–18 seasons, Ronaldo has been the tournament’s top player every season, solidifying his legacy as the best player in the big game.

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