Just the thought of it is insane right? Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line at Everton, even the thought of it is enough to set one off into a paroxysm of laughter.
Yet, it’s not completely bonkers, is it?
Ronaldo has been pushed out of his last couple of clubs as surplus to requirements primarily due to his inability to mesh with other players. It’s a well-known fact that he does well in teams that are built around him, where he can be the prima donna with a supporting cast charged with catering to his whims. That he can consistently find the net should not be doubted, even as at the ripe old age of 37 he remains at peak fitness, and is averaging 34 goals in over 3,600 minutes of action per season over the last five years.
Manchester United outplayed their recent nemesis Liverpool without him, and it’s no secret that Erik ten Haag wants to be rid of the player. With his wage demands, there’s only a handful of super clubs in world football that can afford him, and the ones he has not already played for want nothing to do with him either.
It’s three weeks into a new season and it’s already pretty clear that the Toffees are in the shit. Pardon the directness of the expression, but it’s true. Lead striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is out already with no guarantee that he’ll be able to play a part this season after his injury-wracked campaign last year. Backup striker Salomon Rondon is.. whatever he might be, he is not the solution. Last season’s leading scorer Richarlison is now in London with Tottenham Hotspur and the next best thing on the Toffees roster Anthony Gordon looks to be heading down to the capital as well but with Chelsea instead.
The Blues have been linked with close to a dozen forwards and are no closer to signing any one of them, even as we watch horrified by the Toffees’ futility in front of goal. With a week or so left in the transfer window, the Blues need at least one out and out striker, and an attacking winger with goals in his repertoire, but the key is that both players need to be Premier League level tried and tested. The urgency of the situation now means the Blues do not have the luxury of being able to take a gamble on a couple of players here.
So why Ronaldo and what are the pros and cons of making such a move?
From the player’s perspective, most importantly would be on the footballing side. CR7 would be virtually guaranteed all the playing time he wants before the winter World Cup. It’s clear that the player’s biggest career priority is to lift the one trophy not in his cabinet, so being in prime condition for that tournament will be driving him on.
At Everton he would be able to play in his best position right now which is centre forward. Frank Lampard’s 3-4-3/5-4-1 already employs the immobile crab Rondon up front to implement the forward press, so Ronaldo would only be better there. Crosses from the overlapping wingbacks Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson would find a willing recipient, and Ronaldo remains one of the best players in the air in the world game right now.
Calvert-Lewin is already considered very good aerially. Learning from one of the best finishers to have ever played the game would be a massive opportunity not just for DCL but for the rest of the squad too, especially for a gun-shy team like the Blues. His physical conditioning has always been incredible and another area for young footballers to see first hand and work at improving.
Being the focal point at a club with a long and proud history in the waning days of his career would only serve to grow the CR7 brand, something that he still prioritizes. And an added bonus would be that he wouldn’t have to move out of his Cheshire mansion that he just occupied last September, with a number of players who ply their trade on Merseyside living in the Manchester suburbs.
For Everton, aside from what he will bring to the squad in terms of goals, depth and experience, there is also the massive factor of the marketing impact he would have for the Blues. The furore around his former Real Madrid teammate James Rodriguez clearly showed that Evertonians love having a superstar on the team, and will dig into their pockets to display that love too. Can you picture the royal blue shirt with those glorious white chevrons running down Ronaldo’s statuesque shoulders as he twirls in the air to land magnificently in his iconic ‘Siiiuuuu’ celebration?
There have to be some downsides though, of course. Nothing is ever that easy.
The first and most important is his wages. CR7 is currently on wages of £515,385 per week. More than Everton’s top five earners combined. So how do the Blues pay for him? Well, it would all come down to how desperate United are to be rid of him. It’s unlikely the Red Devils will find an outright buyer for him at this time in the window, so they would be more amenable to sending him out on loan.
Any loan deal to any club would need United to still retain a hefty chunk of his wages, and the Toffees could sweeten the deal by chipping in about £100,000 of that amount. For a loan to happen however, that would mean the Blues not using their second domestic loan slot, which is currently rumoured to be earmarked for Chelsea Armando Broja.
To make it even more amenable to the player, the Blues could propose a six-month loan for Ronaldo. He has made it very clear that he wants to play in his pride and joy, the Champions League. If his spell at Everton is a success and he does well at the World Cup too, then that could trigger some otherwise non-existent interest in him in the January transfer window. He will have served his purpose by that time at Everton, while leaving him available again for United to sell to a club still competing in the European showcase.
Finally, Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes is well known to the Everton Board, with majority shareowner Farhad Moshiri having reached out multiple times to the ‘super-agent’ for transfers, and most recently when the Blues were considering Nuno Espirito Santo for the vacant manager’s position. Having that contact will certainly grease the wheels for a Ronaldo approach.
A short term loan of that nature gives the Blues a proven goalscorer for now when they need it the most, and buy them time to scout and pursue another young striker that they could then move for in January. Additionally, it would not block the path for any upcoming youngsters like Ellis Simms who has been on fire to start his loan spell at Sunderland in the Championship. Lewis Dobbin and Nathan Broadhead could also return and be in contention for a first team squad spot next summer.
A lot is often said about the detrimental effect on the team polarizing players like Ronaldo have on squads, but with a vastly experienced former player like Frank Lampard in charge, and veteran leaders like Conor Coady and James Tarkowski would certainly help to temper those consequences.
If Everton can somehow convince both Ronaldo and United to let him join the Blues on a six-month loan that could really pay off for all parties concerned. Of course, all of this is a figment of the writer’s imagination and likely will never happen, but with how dire Everton’s striking options look like right now, it could be worth trying. As a famous sniper of Ronaldo’s ilk once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”