Ten years ago this summer, the Miami Heat signed then-free agent LeBron James, which set in motion the creation of the NBA’s most famous Big Three. James and fellow free agent signing Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade to form what would later become known as the Heatles. A decade on, could Paris Saint-Germain be about to follow in the Heat’s footsteps?
Cristiano Ronaldo, at the relatively ripe age of 35-years old, still remains one of the best players in world football, which is why recent rumors of a possible transfer to Paris Saint-Germain are unsurprising. There are very few teams that would not benefit from the addition of CR7, even at this late stage in his illustrious career.
The rumors were first reported last week by France Football and have gained traction following Juventus’ surprising last 16 Champions League exit at the hands of Lyon on Friday.
Juventus won the Italian Serie A for the ninth time in succession this year, but the Champions League will have been the primary goal and the very reason why Ronaldo was signed for a reported $120 million from Real Madrid in 2018. Failure to advance past the round of 16 will be considered an embarrassment and could lead to both the club and player re-evaluating their options.
This is where PSG comes in. Playing-wise, the move makes sense as it allows CR7 to coast to a title in the league (the French league is much less competitive than other top leagues) while focusing his efforts on the Champions League. Winning European football’s ultimate crown has always been PSG’s goal since the Qatari takeover in 2011, and adding a fully focused Ronaldo could be the final piece to get them there. Additionally, winning the Champions League as the star of a third team would only help Ronaldo in the GOAT discussions.
From a marketing and brand-building standpoint, the transfer is entirely logical. If Ronaldo were to move to PSG, Nike would have its three main football athletes at the club, which also happens to be one of Nike’s top-tier teams and the only European club to date with a Jordan Brand jersey and collection (CR7 rocking the Jumpman logo, just imagine it!) Ronaldo would join Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé in a star-studded frontline, one whose ruthlessness in front of goal would only be rivaled by their marketability off the pitch. Nike would be able to use all three for both in-house marketing campaigns and campaigns related to PSG.
PSG would also benefit from Ronaldo’s global celebrity. The Portuguese star is the most-followed person on Instagram and has a massive following in lucrative Asia, specifically China, which the club is desperate to establish itself in. The Parisians recently opened an official store in South Korea, so adding a name like Ronaldo’s to its roster would be a huge positive in terms of brand recognition overseas.
Since leaving Manchester United in 2009, Ronaldo has played at club level for Real Madrid and Juventus, two adidas-sponsored teams (conversely, adidas' Lionel Messi has spent his career at Nike-partnered Barcelona). That would change if there is any truth to the PSG rumors. For now, though, that’s all they are — rumors. Just as there are several reasons why this move would be a masterstroke for Paris Saint-Germain, Nike, and Ronaldo, there are also some caveats as to why it may not work out (or even happen at all).
Leaving Juventus before winning the Champions League would be deemed a failure by Ronaldo detractors and cited as a stain on his legacy (although this would be considered harsh in the extreme given his individual Champions League performances have been exceptional). From a tactics point of view, there is also the problem of fitting the players in. Playing alongside Neymar and Mbappé might be a marketing dream, but there’s no guarantee the triumverate will gel on the pitch — especially if you take into account the big egos. Neymar famously fell out with Edinson Cavani in 2017 when the two argued over who would take a penalty in a match against Lyon, and it's fair to say the Brazillian wouldn't be too open to the idea of abdicating his duties to CR7 — the designated dead ball taker at all clubs he's been at — should he join.
Regardless of what happens, this will be the transfer story of the summer if it drags on. Watch this space.