Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United is a play on nostalgia. Cristiano returns to where he is loved


Although they prob­a­bly also think about mar­ket­ing.

Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronal­do returns to Man­ches­ter Unit­ed. Details of the incred­i­ble trans­fer

When dis­cussing the trans­fer of Ronal­do, you need to under­stand one impor­tant thing: when we talk about the Por­tuguese, we mean not just a foot­ball play­er, albeit an out­stand­ing one. We are talk­ing about an entire brand that has long gone beyond the scope of sports and is firm­ly entrenched in mass cul­ture. Cris­tiano is the most pop­u­lar per­son on Earth. In any case, if you judge this by the num­ber of fol­low­ers on Insta­gram, and he has 331 mil­lion of them.

Marketing Gain

There­fore, it is quite strange to hear that the trans­fer of Ronal­do is a fail­ure for Juven­tus. They say that the Old Lady was nev­er able to win the Cham­pi­ons League with the Por­tuguese, and that’s why they took him. Indeed, being elim­i­nat­ed first in the 1/4 finals, and then twice in the 1/8 finals, and even from such teams as Ajax, Lyon and Por­to are so-so results. If you ask the ques­tion whether Juven­tus has become stronger in Europe with Ronal­do, the answer is unlike­ly to be in the affir­ma­tive.

Cristiano Ronaldo. “In just 10 min­utes, Cris­tiano crushed Mes­si and PSG. How social net­works and the media react­ed to Ronal­do’s move to Man­ches­ter Unit­ed





But in the case of Cris­tiano, the sports side, if not sec­ondary, is def­i­nite­ly ambigu­ous­ly para­mount. Juven­tus Pres­i­dent Andrea Agnel­li, through­out the ten years that he has been head­ing the club, has been con­sis­tent­ly try­ing to trans­form it from a pure­ly foot­ball brand into a lifestyle brand (by the way, PSG and the acqui­si­tion of Leo Mes­si are fol­low­ing the same path fits per­fect­ly into the con­cept). There was a sto­ry about chang­ing the emblem: hard­core fans were indig­nant, but now, a few years lat­er, the let­ter J is firm­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Juven­tus.

The sign­ing of a world celebri­ty, a real pop star, which is Krish, is from the same series. When Ronal­do arrived in Turin, club leg­end Zbig­niew Boniek not­ed that the Juven­tus-Frosi­none match would now be watched all over the world. Just like now it will be with the games of PSG against the con­di­tion­al Amiens and Dijon. So in terms of mar­ket­ing and brand pro­mo­tion, Cristiano’s trans­fer was def­i­nite­ly jus­ti­fied. The num­ber of fol­low­ers on social net­works increased from 50 to 113.2 mil­lion. The increase in fans or those who con­sid­er them­selves such, accord­ing to the author­i­ta­tive com­pa­ny Nielsen, is from 385 to 545 mil­lion.

From an eco­nom­ic point of view, every­thing is more com­pli­cat­ed, and this requires a sep­a­rate detailed analy­sis. But here, when assess­ing the sit­u­a­tion, you need to take into account the covid fac­tor, which great­ly influ­enced the sit­u­a­tion. Juven­tus is suf­fer­ing loss­es for the sec­ond year in a row — after the 2019/20 sea­son there will be loss­es at the end of the 2020/21 sea­son. And per­haps this was a fac­tor that influ­enced the club’s deci­sion not to stick with Cris­tiano — it is sig­nif­i­cant that there was no news of con­tract exten­sion nego­ti­a­tions either in the spring or in the sum­mer. 31 mil­lion net salary, plus tax­es, plus trans­fer depre­ci­a­tion of 29 mil­lion per year — the Por­tuguese was not cheap for Juven­tus.

How­ev­er, Juven­tus’ adver­tis­ing and spon­sor­ship rev­enues increased over these three years from 87 to 130 mil­lion euros.

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Post­ed by Cris­tiano Ronal­do (@cristiano)

The temptation of “City”

I assume that Man­ches­ter City, which has long been con­sid­ered a new des­ti­na­tion for Cris­tiano, when enter­ing into nego­ti­a­tions, was guid­ed pri­mar­i­ly by mar­ket­ing inter­ests. Well, the truth is, it was a temp­ta­tion that was dif­fi­cult to resist. You know that you can take Ronal­do and his army of per­son­al fans to your team. Increase brand aware­ness. Expand your fan base. Attract new spon­sors.

More­over, from a pure­ly sport­ing point of view, the trans­fer would be quite con­tro­ver­sial. It was dif­fi­cult to imag­ine the Por­tuguese in the clas­sic foot­ball of Pep Guardi­o­la — with his crav­ing for uni­ver­sal­ism, press­ing, false nines and oth­er bells and whis­tles. The cur­rent Ronal­do is a clas­sic “nine”, an ide­al killer inside the penal­ty area. A great play­er, but extreme­ly high­ly spe­cial­ized. The same Har­ry Kane, whom MS failed to get this sum­mer, suits City much bet­ter. Well, then, Guardi­o­la once didn’t work out with one extreme­ly self-cen­tered foot­ball play­er — we’re talk­ing about Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic in Barcelona. Where is the guar­an­tee that some­thing like this won’t hap­pen again?

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Post­ed by Man­ches­ter Unit­ed (@manchesterunited)

A place where he is loved

Mov­ing to Man­ches­ter Unit­ed was a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. It is, of course, also part­ly about mar­ket­ing and eco­nom­ics, but, it seems, it is more about nos­tal­gia. The Glaz­er fam­i­ly, which owns Man­ches­ter Unit­ed, is, to put it mild­ly, not very loved by the fans. This is a long sto­ry, and here in the spring there was a fire because of the Super League. It all end­ed with the crowd break­ing through at Old Traf­ford and the match with Liv­er­pool being dis­rupt­ed. Ronal­do’s trans­fer looks like an attempt to appease the fans and at least some­how win their favor: “Guys, look, we have returned Krish to you!”

What­ev­er one may say, he is already one of the Man­ches­ter Unit­ed leg­ends. He came to Man­ches­ter as a 17-year-old boy, grew into a world star, and won his first Cham­pi­ons League and first Bal­lon d’Or with Unit­ed. Fans still have plen­ty of T‑shirts with the Por­tugue­se’s name and num­ber sev­en — some of the most offen­sive ones even start­ed burn­ing them after read­ing that Ronal­do was mov­ing to City.

Cris­tiano returns to where he is loved. And it seems that this is impor­tant for him — to see that he is appre­ci­at­ed and loved. At Juven­tus this feel­ing did not seem to exist; for the club he was sim­ply an expen­sive tool. And in Real Madrid things have become unstuck in the last year: Ronal­do was offend­ed that the Madrid team, in his opin­ion, did not pro­vide him with ade­quate sup­port dur­ing the tri­al over tax fraud. Ole Gun­nar Solskjaer’s speech that he con­sid­ers the Por­tuguese the best play­er in his­to­ry and a leg­end in gen­er­al prob­a­bly warms his soul.

Of course, this is expen­sive nos­tal­gia — Cristiano’s salary has hard­ly dropped com­pared to Juven­tus. Of course, there are also ques­tions regard­ing pure­ly foot­ball mat­ters — Ronal­do will need to fit into a game that already has Bruno Fer­nan­des and Paul Pog­ba. But there is still a feel­ing that in this crazy sum­mer, which is not over yet (yes, we are talk­ing about Mbappe), Cristiano’s return to Man­ches­ter Unit­ed is the right trans­fer.