The rumor du jour (or rumour du jour if you're into mixing the Queen's English and French or you're an Oklahoma fan) is that Cristiano Ronaldo is headed from Old Trafford to the Nou Camp over the summer. Big Phil Scolari has supported the move, as has Portuguese teammate Hugo Viana. I have a few thoughts on this one:
1. I'm against the move from Barca's perspective. Cristiano Ronaldo (hereinafter, "CR") has had an excellent season with Manchester United, but I still think that he's somewhat overrated. He's got good moves, he's hard to knock off of the ball, and he can score when he gets into the box, but he's still fundamentally a selfish player. He's Arjen Robben with a little more scoring ability. That works at Manchester United, which sometimes needs CR to generate offense by himself, but that style will not work at Barcelona, where the team's short passing game would be damaged by a player that holds onto the ball for too long and is generally looking to do his own thing. What makes the Barca system work and cause Ray Hudson to wax poetic like James Lipton on Charles Nelson Reilly is that the players all set one another up. Deco, Xavi, and Iniesta get the ball forward and then Ronaldinho, Messi, and Eto'o circulate the ball in the attacking third, using one another to create chances. What'll happen too often if CR is at Barca is that he'll get the ball on the right wing, put his head down, and then take on two defenders until he gets into the box. This will likely drive the rest of the team crazy and exacerbate whatever tensions there are between a collection of highly-compensated, highly-successful, highly-egotistical players. Maybe there's an unselfish player beneath the surface, but I wouldn't bet 40M Euros on that point, especially when Leo Messi can fill the right wing position better than CR can. Barca passed on CR this summer because they were going after Henry, who would be a much better fit with Barca's style of play; I hope that they stick with their original judgment.
2. CR would be a better fit at Real Madrid. For one thing, they're desperate for a major star right now, as Robinho hasn't panned out like they had hoped and they are desperate for someone who can generate offense. For another thing, they have no concept of team anyway, so CR will be in a perfect environment. And speaking of which, I can't express how hilarious it is that people at Real are identifying Eto'oGat'e as an opportunity to catch the Catalans. If there's anyone who should know about discontent, it's the folks at the Bernabeu. Off the top of my head, the club president (who may not be the club president for long, as there is litigation contesting his election and he might lose out to a guy currently under indictment) ripped into the players in front of a group of law students and one reporter, the coach can't get along with Guti, the coach can't get along with Robinho, the coach can't get along with Cassano, their star centerback Cannavaro has played the worst football of his life this season, Roberto Carlos has complained because Capello has forced him to play defense, and Beckham has been dropped because he signed with MLS, leading to a he-said, she-said debate as to why he didn't re-sign with Real. There is such a massive case of projection going on with those comments that I don't know if words can describe it. Five points just doesn't do justice to the gulf between Barca and Real this year. The Blaugrana might not win La Liga, but if they lose it, it'll be Valencia or possibly Sevilla beating them.
[Update: Iker Casillas, the Madridista I respect, agrees: "If Barcelona are in crisis, then we have really fallen off the edge. Their crisis makes me laugh."
3. I've also been amused by the reaction in England to the move. You would think that a nation that saw its two biggest stars - David Beckham and Michael Owen - move to Real Madrid would not be surprised if CR wanted to make a move to Spain, especially since he's Portuguese. You would think that he wouldn't be begrudged wanting to get passes from Iniesta, Deco, Messi, and Ronaldinho as opposed to John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher. You would think that fans would understand that CR might enjoy Spain more than England, seeing as how the English blame him for getting mild-mannered Wayne Rooney sent off, as opposed to this:
But no, Ronaldo would be a mercenary for making the move. Because all those players in the Premiership are playing for peanuts, a hearty well done from her Majesty the Queen, and a pittance of a pension.