Cristiano Ronaldo brought something to Juventus, but not what he was signed for

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Cristiano Ronaldo is undeniably one of the greatest players of all time. His coexistence with Lionel Messi for much of the 21st century has both added to and taken away from his legacy, with every mention of one's brilliance leading to an apparent need to talk about the other.

With time, though, it will be impossible to look back at the summer of 2021 without mentioning both together. As Messi departed Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain, Cristiano soon followed suit and left Juventus to rejoin Manchester United.

What is Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus legacy?

Ultimately, although it's not something his worshippers will allow to be said without retort, Cristiano fell short of expectations in Turin. Perhaps more accurately, Juventus did with him in their team.

While it would be ridiculous to point fingers at the Portuguese and hold him solely responsible for Juventus' regression in recent seasons, they are where they are now because of his signing. And that is in a worse place than they were when he arrived.

Juventus signed Cristiano off the back of seven straight Scudettos. In that time they had also reached two Champions League finals in four years, the second of those seeing them beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid, the first to Messi's Barcelona. They didn't need the No.7 to win Serie A, as they had no problems there. He was signed to take them one step further in Europe, and they haven't managed to get anywhere near a final since.

Shortcomings in Europe

Cristiano's three years in Turin saw him score a lot of goals. In 134 appearances he managed 101 goals and 22 assists - not something that can be questioned or criticised.

In 2018/19, Cristiano had perhaps his best moment as a Juventus player. Having lost a round of 16 first leg to Atletico Madrid 2-0, the forward single-handedly sent Juventus through with a second-leg hat-trick to turn the tie on its head. They then fell in the quarter-finals to Ajax.

The next season saw them knocked out against Lyon in the last 16, and they fell at that same stage in 2020/21 against Porto.

Holding the team back

Cristiano cannot be held accountable for the side's failings, but his very presence in Turin has hamstrung Juventus, which points fingers at Fabio Paratici.

After tax, the forward earned 31 million euros in Italy, putting his pre-tax figure at close to double that, added to the fee in excess of 100m euros that La Vecchia Signora paid to sign him from Real Madrid in the first place.

Those sums would have been better spent elsewhere. Juventus' midfield has crumbled and decayed in the last few seasons, so the Cristiano money could have been invested into strengthening there as opposed to in attack, where they didn't need reinforcing.

Paulo Dybala's career hasn't quite progressed as he would have liked it to, yet he showed signs of his pre-Cristiano form in Juventus' season opener at Udinese, curiously with the Portuguese watching on from the bench. Even Gonzalo Higuain's career has been derailed and he now finds himself in MLS after being loaned out to both AC Milan and Chelsea, despite having been Serie A's best striker prior to being shipped around so that Juventus could accommodate Cristiano.

Off-pitch success

Juventus' brand has benefitted from signing Cristiano and, in 2021, that's not something that can be overlooked. They have grown their image on social media and have been able to increase income from Adidas and Jeep as a result of having him at the club.

Now that he's gone, though, those followers, temporary fans and sponsorship deals are likely to go with him.

Juventus are left without the Champions League trophy that he was signed to bring. What's more damning is that they are now, for the first time in a decade, playing a Serie A season without being champions of Italy.

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