If this calculation appeared fragile at best in the first two years of his contract, the coronavirus pandemic has completely shattered it. Like most clubs across Europe, Juventus has spent much of the past year figuring out exactly how to make up hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Ronaldo has played on the field – he has scored 101 goals for the club in 134 games domestically, despite Juventus continuing to emerge from the battle for the Champions League, relinquishing the Serie A title for the first time in a decade in May – and he has definitely helped the club expand its brand.
Giorgio Ricci, Juventus Turin Chief Revenue Officer, told the Times earlier this year that the connection with its brand was so strong that it was hard to see how much of Juventus ‘soaring pre-pandemic revenue was due to the series’ dominance A and how much that fell, simply to have Ronaldo on the team.
In times of austerity, however, his salary could not be justified. Juventus are not in quite as dire straits as Barcelona, for example, but their attempts to rebuild their squad have been hampered by commitment to Ronaldo. It didn’t want to lose him in a sporting sense. In economic terms, however, it had little choice.
That looked unlikely for much of the summer. The otherwise busy European transfer market was worryingly calm. Only three or four teams could hope to get anywhere near his salary, and none seemed particularly interested. As expected, Ronaldo reported for pre-season training. He posted a message on Instagram rejecting transfer gossip, moderately unconvincing.