A few days ago when I saw the front page of TuttoSport proclaiming that Cristiano Ronaldo to Juve was going to happen I will admit I scoffed a bit. Yeah right was my reaction. Not even Juve for all of their history and recent success have the clout or financial might to pull arguably the best player of all-time away from Real Madrid. They’re just trying to sell papers or so I thought.
Then Tuesday after a trip to the beach where I was all but cut off from society, outside a few updates from the England-Colombia game on LiveScore; I returned to find my Twitter feed inundated with more rumors of Ronaldo to Juve. No way! I thought which was followed by a few expletives flowing from my lips. I couldn’t help but think of how bad this would be for Roma’s title hopes going forward.
This deal from all indications seems be nearing completion as the week comes to a close. Normally, this site focuses on all things Roma, but with a deal of this magnitude potentially having a profound impact on Roma’s title hopes and Serie A as a whole, I thought it would be worth examining. I thought it would be intriguing to look at it from a Roma perspective, while trying to minimize our loathing of Juve to see if there could be any positives to such a deal, in addition to any negatives.
Just when it looked like Juve might be at their most vulnerable since their near decade of dominance over the league began, this news emerged. Juve were pushed to the brink by Napoli last season and then saw Gianluigi Buffon walk off into the sunset (which actually translates to Paris). Instead this move would probably make Juve even better than they’ve been recently. We’re talking about a team that has won seven straight Serie A titles, and made two Champions League Finals in that time. Now they’d be adding, in my opinion, the best player in the world, who at 33 years old still looks to have plenty of great years left in his legs.
This of course is bad news for our beloved Giallorossi. Roma have had enough trouble trying to stay competitive with the Bianconeri over the course Juve’s reign of dominance; three times playing second fiddle to the champions. We’ve yet to hit the dog days of summer which means Roma’s roster will likely still be whittled away some, but with last year’s Champions League plus this summer’s early additions, hope was beginning to spring eternal in the Italian capital. Now those hopes will be tampered a bit.
This led me to begin to wonder, do the benefits for the league outweigh the potential continued Juve dominance over its domestic competition?
What are the potential benefits of Ronaldo’s move to Juve? Well to start it would create a buzz around Serie A that we haven’t seen in years. In recent years, Serie A has had many critics. One would think that this move would help in quelling that criticism a bit. If the best player in the world wants to join Serie A while he’s still at the top could the league be that bad?
Despite the constant criticism of Italian teams, I’d argue it’s been better in recent years than most people would give it credit for. The greatest evidence to that in my opinion would be the Champions League finals reaches by Juve and the semifinal reached by Roma. Serie A teams have proven that they can compete with the best in Europe recently. This move could elevate Juve to potential Champions League favorites, which would be good for the league’s image.
The buzz around Ronaldo would almost certainly attract more fans to the league and should create more marketing opportunities. One would hope that this would also mean more screen time for the league in places like the US. I don’t know about others in the States, but I certainly got tired of BeIn featuring Real Madrid against a bottom of the table team over a top five Serie A matchup. Hopefully, Ronaldo’s presence would help allieviate this issue just a bit and potentially earn the league a more lucrative TV deal with BeIn or a bigger network.
The presence of Ronaldo may make the appeal of the league may grow among players as well. If Ronaldo wants to play in Serie A, then perhaps others will follow. Players that aspire to be the best often feel like they have to compete against the best, and Ronaldo is the best of the best. If that’s the case then perhaps other top players will begin finding their way to the peninsula to compete with CR7. Yes, it does take money to attract the best players and Serie A teams don’t haven the money to compete with the likes of the English and Spanish juggernauts, but would some players be willing to take slightly less to join a Roma, Inter, or Napoli to take a shot at dethroning Ronaldo and Juve? It’s an intriguing question to ponder.
Of course, greater notoriety, more TV time, and potentially more stars following Ronaldo to Italy could of course lead to more money. All of the aforementioned can lead to new more lucrative TV deals abroad, greater marketing opportunities, increased jersey sales, gate receipts, and other sources of income for the league. If managed the right way then these increased revenues could lead to greater long term fiscal health for the league.
As exciting as seeing one of the world’s best players play in Serie A on a week-to-week basis, I do have a few concers. Of course, as a fan of the competition, how will this affect the competitive balance of the league? If Juve were already good enough to win seven straight Scudettos will anyone be near good enough to stop them from winning eight, nine, or ten in a row? On top of that will more top players decide follow Ronaldo to Juve and increase their chances of increased domination? That’s a potential scary though as a Roma fan. Lastly, the way that Juve is said to paying off Ronaldo’s 30 million Euro salary though sponsorship deals concerns me. If Juve are allowed to do this with other players as well, will anybody be able to compete against the already financial powerhouse of the league? The deck will indeed be stacked for every other team in the league.