Cristiano Ronaldo’s influence everywhere he goes can not be disputed. From United to Real Madrid and now Juventus, the Portuguese has always been a key and influential part of any team he plays for. Not just an influential member of the squad but the most influential one as well. For all of the records he sets in week in and out, a non-football fan could easily think Ronaldo is a 26-year-old forward in his prime and at the peak of his powers. Far from it.
At 34, Ronaldo still defies the test of time and looks better like ageing wine with each passing day. Sadly, the reality is that he’s not getting any younger and must be treated as such. While the Juventus faithful and neutrals alike are elated to see Ronaldo play every week, Maurizio Sarri must now consider giving him a rest in the nearest future, especially as Juventus have a “sandwich” packed run of fixtures between now and next month.
For someone who should be at the close of his career, playing lesser competitive games and getting subbed off after about 60 minutes, Ronaldo has proved that age is really just a number. Asides Leonardo Bonucci who has played 720 minutes of football for Juventus this season (Whoscored), Ronaldo is joint-second with Alex Sandro as players who have the next most minutes played in the Juventus squad – 630 minutes via Whoscored. The only other Juventus players older than Ronaldo (Chiellini and Buffon) have only managed 90 and 270 minutes respectively so far (Whoscored).
Even when considering that 32-year-old Bonucci, who has 90 minutes more than Ronaldo, plays at centre-back, it makes one realise Ronaldo is still the hard-worker in the end – considering he plays in a more physical and stamina demanding position upfront. It must be duly noted that the game Ronaldo missed was the one against Brescia and if not for a slight precautionary measure (via Goal) that kept him out of the game, he would have been on par as the most capped Juventus player this season. So much for a 34-year-old attacking forward.
All of these now point to the fact that Sarri must give Ronaldo a breather to rest – at least that is what Juventus fixture list is suggesting. As per Skysports, Juventus play Leece, Genoa, Torino, have a UCL trip to Moscow and finally a Pioli-led AC Milan all in the space of 15 days (26th October – 10th November), meaning the Bianconeri will play one game every three days on average between today and the 10th of November.
Ronaldo would probably never ask for a rest but Sarri must consider this to prevent burnout and keep him as fit as possible. Realistically, the games between the time-frame can be won even without Ronaldo and it could perhaps give the chance to some fringe players to get more playing time. A report by IlBiancoNero suggested the games against Leece and Genoa are the most likely games Sarri sees fit to consider giving the 34-year-old a rest.
And ahead of a busy run of games, Sarri has now confirmed to give Ronaldo a break as the forward has been left out of the club’s squad for the upcoming match.
“With Cristiano, we speak often,” he told a pre-match news conference as quoted by the Daily Mail.
“Even for him there will be need for rest. We’ll see based on how he’s feeling. I don’t know when, we will decide.
“Right now we don’t have a lot of options in order to completely rotate the squad. We’ll change things with regards to the conditions of the players.”
The need to give Ronaldo a break gets more important when given a further look. After Juventus play Milan on the 10th of November, all leagues across Europe go for the final international break of the year. For some players, the international break is ideally a resting period but if you’re Ronaldo, it’s quite the opposite.
His influence is not only at club level but spreads to his national duties as well. As Portugal’s decorated captain and the country’s record goal-scorer (via Transfermarkt), Ronaldo would definitely play a 1000 games for his national team if there were 1000 games available for selection. Furthermore, the fact that he’s close to a prestigious category gives him a personal quest on his own to chase. Ronaldo only needs 15 goals more to become the highest-scoring international player in the history of men’s football.
Most goals scored all-time in men's international football:
🇮🇷 Ali Daei (109)
🇵🇹 Cristiano Ronaldo (94)
🇭🇺 Ferenc Puskas (84)
Cristiano Ronaldo is only 15 goals away from tying the all-time record. pic.twitter.com/hm6BSVz6KZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 12, 2019
The Ronaldo we know never gets tired of setting a new record and thus he will definitely want to play as many international games as possible. If he’s then over-worked at club level and the same applies on the international front, it could lead to a massive burnout at some later point in the season.
With a Whoscored rating of 7.74, Ronaldo remains the highest-rated Juventus player of all those who have played at least two games or more this season. Chiellini with a rating of 8.24 (Whoscored) has only played 90 minutes and can’t be taken as definitive. If Sarri wants Ronaldo performing at the top level in the long run, he must consider giving him a rest in one of Juventus’ upcoming games.