Ronaldo joined Juventus in a £88million move from Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 to great fanfare and expectation.
Here was a superstar who was meant to propel Juve back to the summit of European football by guiding them to Champions League glory for the first time since 1996.
Cristiano Ronaldo suffered more Champions League anguish with Juventus on Tuesday night
The iconic No 7 was unable to inspire Juve as they were dumped out by Porto in the last 16
Ronaldo cuts a forlorn figure as another season goes by without Champions League glory
The Portuguese powerhouse arrived in Turin off the back of inspiring Real Madrid to an unprecedented third-successive Champions League. It was his fourth in five years at the Spanish giants and Juve were hoping this form would correlate upon joining them.
During that final 2017-18 campaign at Real, he scored 15 goals in the Champions League to finish as the competition’s top scorer – five more than Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane (all 10).
Juventus saw the Ronaldo effect that season at close-hand as he ended their participation in the tournament at the quarter-final stage.
The iconic No 7 scored twice in Turin as Real won 3-0 at Juventus in the first leg. Massimiliano Allegri’s side were winning 3-0 in the reverse encounter, and looked set to force extra-time, before a 90+8-minute stoppage-time penalty from Ronaldo saw Real progress 4-3 on aggregate in the most dramatic of finishes.
Fast-forward those three years now and that unparalleled success at Real has been met with unparalleled disappointment at Juventus.
In truth, and rather surprisingly, Juve have gone backwards in Europe since Ronaldo has joined them.
His arrival in the summer of 2018 for £88million from Real Madrid was met with great fanfare
On Tuesday night they were dumped out of the Champions League last 16 by 10-man Porto on away goals after the tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.
It was the second-successive season that Juventus have been dealt this fate following defeat on away goals to Lyon (2-2 on agg). The year before, in 2018-19, they were knocked out by Ajax (3-2 on agg) in the quarter-finals.
Quite simply this Juventus team, presently constructed, are not good enough to challenge for the elite prizes in Europe. That much is clear by Tuesday’s showing.
Ronaldo was at fault for the decisive goal scored by Sergio Oliveira as he turned his back on his free-kick that went underneath him – a moment which saw him damned by Italian press on Wednesday. Corriere dello Sport used the headline ‘Betrayed by Ronaldo’ on their front page on Wednesday morning, suggesting that the Portuguese should have blocked the shot which squeezed past Wojciech Szczesny and into the bottom corner.
It was a poignant moment not only in the match but perhaps Ronaldo’s spell at Juve.
Ronaldo turned his back in the wall as Sergio Oliveira scored a low free-kick in extra time
Oliveira (centre) wheels away in celebration after scoring what was the tie’s winning goal
Corriere dello Sport used the headline ‘Betrayed by Ronaldo’ on Wednesday’s front page
He will be turning 37 next season and time is running out if he is to win a sixth Champions League. His time at Juventus has been unsuccessful on the continental stage and that has been highlighted by some alarming stats.
His three combined campaigns at the Bianconeri have seen him score just 14 goals in the tournament (six in 2018-19, four in 2019-20 and four this term) – which is one less than his tally in 2017-18 alone at Real.
Also, the two legs against Porto were the first time since 2005-06 that Ronaldo had not scored in a Champions League knockout tie.
The star needs help and the supporting cast at Juve aren’t sparkling. So, does he exit stage left?
If he does, then his options appear remote. Ronaldo still has another year on his contract and is on an astronomical salary of £28m-per-year at the Allianz Stadium.
These last-16 ties were the first time since 2005-06 that he had not scored in the knockouts
Despite his obvious skillset that is an eyewatering fee. In reality, only a few clubs could afford those figures. Manchester United and Real Madrid are two of those but the coronavirus pandemic continues to limit clubs’ spending power.
A return to United has always been a fanciful dream among their supporters who remember Ronaldo as the swashbuckling winger that turned into a goalscoring phenomenon during six glorious seasons at Old Trafford.
He would provide the goal threat the club need in attack and the thought of him alongside Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes is a fanciful thought. But that’s just that. It’s fanciful and nothing else.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to go young with his side and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has spoken publicly before about being mindful with lavish outlays in the pandemic.
Ronaldo left United in 2009 for Real and in those subsequent nine years became their greatest-ever player.
He has won five Champions Leagues during spells at Manchester United (left) and Real Madrid
He won 16 major trophies with the club, including two LaLigas, four Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups and three European Super Cups.
He also scored a mindboggling 450 goals in just 438 games to become their all-time top goalscorer.
Again though, just like United, this doesn’t seem a likely return for Ronaldo at one of his former clubs. Real’s transfer targets are very much pointing to the future in Kylian Mbappe, 22, and 20-year-old Erling Haaland. These two world-class talents look set to take over Ronaldo and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi’s mantle and are the sure long-term bet to rebuild another dynasty around.
With United and Real Madrid out that leaves Paris Saint-Germain. Unlike the other two clubs, money isn’t an issue at the Parc des Princes. Their world-record outlays on Neymar (£198m) and Mbappe (£166m) prove that is no object.
A frontline of Neymar, Ronaldo and Mbappe would be the best in the world but the question has to be asked: do PSG need Ronaldo and would it work tactically? The answer to both: not sure. The French giants are top-heavy enough as it is and their problems in previous competitions has been shutting out the elite attacks. Ronaldo would provide a fix if Mbappe leaves for Real this summer but only in the short-term as mother nature continues to have an influence on his career.
A front free at PSG of Ronaldo, Neymar (left) and Kylian Mbappe (right) would be tantalising
Unquestionably though Mauricio Pochettino’s side may provide the best fit for Ronaldo. Real and United aren’t the forces they once were during his spells there and PSG are an upgrade on the personnel he is playing with presently at Juventus.
However, maybe this could be it for Ronaldo? That question hasn’t been suggested before but the 36-year-old certainly won’t be short of suitors outside of Europe.
Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham recently spoke of his desire this month to bring Ronaldo to MLS in future.
If another crack at the Champions League isn’t possible then the notion of creating a legacy in America may appeal to Ronaldo.
Either way he needs to have a long and hard think about his future at Juventus. It could be time to turn his back on the club, just like he did with Oliveira’s free-kick for Porto.
Ronaldo has plenty to ponder about his future at Juve if he wishes to win a sixth European Cup