The glorious European legacy left by a true great

Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr looks set to bring the curtain down on one of the greatest careers in European football history.

While writing off Ronaldo is always unwise, a combination of the forward’s age and unsightly nature of his second spell at Manchester United make a return to elite European football seem unlikely.

As a five-time Champions League winner and top scorer in the history of European football’s premier club competition, Ronaldo’s legacy as one of the all-time greats is assured.

However, with seven top-flight championships and a plethora of other trophies to his name, Ronaldo’s impact on the continental game has gone beyond his goals in the club’s biggest phase.

With the five-time Ballon d’Or winner heading to Riyadh after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with Al Nassr, Stats Perform traces his seismic impact on European club football.

Ronaldo’s rise to the Premier League

Ronaldo’s return to the Premier League may not have gone to plan – the 37-year-old has scored just once in the competition this season before an explosive interview with Piers Morgan led to his exit from Old Trafford.

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

After bursting onto the scene as a tough winger, Ronaldo recorded 37 assists in competition for the Red Devils, who he also helped win their third European title in 2008.

He also picked up his first Ballon d’Or while at Manchester in 2008, having scored 31 goals in the title-winning 2007-08 season. That single-season tally has only been surpassed by three players in the history of the competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s time in the Premier League

Making history with Madrid in LaLiga

Ronaldo may be treated as a legend at United, but it was at Real Madrid where he truly established himself as one of football’s greatest, becoming the Blancos’ top scorer with 450 goals in all competitions.

Incredibly, the Portugal striker averaged more than one goal per game during his trophy-laden spell in Spain, netting 311 times in 292 La Liga appearances.

Ronaldo scored with 16% of his shots for Real Madrid, a higher percentage than he has achieved in the Premier League, Serie A or Champions League.

Madrid may be famous for their Champions League successes, but Ronaldo also helped them to two league titles in 2011-12 and 2016-17, netting 46 goals as Jose Mourinho’s side earned 100 points in the first season. those seasons.

Cristiano Ronaldo had scored 271 league goals for Manchester United and Real Madrid by his 30th birthday

Cristiano Ronaldo had scored 271 league goals for Manchester United and Real Madrid by his 30th birthday

Success in Serie A with the Bianconeri

Given that Juventus failed to win the Champions League, few consider Ronaldo’s time in Turin to be an unmitigated success. The raw numbers, however, suggest otherwise.

Managing 81 goals in 98 league appearances for a club in perpetual crisis – with a 15% conversion rate – tells the story of how Ronaldo evolved in Serie A, honing his game as the quintessential striker in his years forward.

Despite a tumultuous period that saw Maurizio Sarri replace Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus have extended their incredible run of Scudetto successes to nine consecutive seasons.

That spell ended with Ronaldo’s last full season at the Allianz Stadium, though he still finished as Serie A’s top scorer with 29 goals.

The master of the Champions League

For those who believe that Ronaldo is the greatest to have played the match, the Portuguese striker’s exploits in the Champions League are always the decisive factor, the trump card.

Ronaldo’s record of 140 goals in the competition is unmatched, although his great rival Lionel Messi (129) may have objections to his refusal to follow his fellow striker’s lead in exiting Europe.

With an average of almost one goal per game (180 in 183 appearances), Ronaldo won a staggering 115 Champions League games, lifting the trophy five times – a record number.

While Real Madrid solidified their status as European champions by winning three consecutive titles between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, Ronaldo scored the top scorer in the competition each season, solidifying his legacy as the ultimate star player .

Cristiano Ronaldo's record in the Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo’s record in the Champions League

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