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How Cristiano Ronaldo continues to evolve his playstyle
Dec 3, 2021, 7:43:00 AM

How Cristiano Ronaldo continues to evolve his playstyle

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable names in sports. He has sustained his success over the years with constant evolution. He is involved in the greatest player of all-time debate alongside Lionel Messi. Let’s talk about his longevity and how he continues to evolve.

CR7 is one of the biggest stars in football history. This is evidenced by how the fans go crazy when they see him. He draws so many people to his team’s games whether it’s in Spain, Italy, or England. He is statistically the most popular player on social media since he’s the most followed person on Instagram.

This popularity has not been manufactured because CR7 has worked hard to earn his place atop the football world. He started his career at Sporting Lisbon but he broke through the mainstream when Sir Alex Ferguson recruited him to Manchester United.

After a strong run in Manchester, CR7 went to his career-defining club, Madrid. He dominated both La Liga and the Champions League with Madrid transforming himself from a playmaker to an outright goal-scorer from the left wing. He then moved to Juve where he became an even more goal-inclined player as a centre-forward. 

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Ronaldo has turned into a premier goal poacher

During his first Man United stint, CR7 was a good goal-scorer but he was mostly known for his dribble moves and flashy skills. When he made the move to Madrid, he evolved to the point where he became the main goal-scorer from the left-winger role. While the goal-scoring winger was nothing new, CR7 cemented his place as the premier player in the role. 

He was turning into a reliable goal-scorer to the point where Madrid was playing a dual-striker setup with CR7 and Karim Benzema as the two stars up top. They became one of the most prolific striker duos in the world due to their absurd stats and consistency. 

As he aged, CR7 began to turn himself into an outright striker. He was not the tireless winger anymore because he had to adjust to his body. He is still a strong player but he is more inclined to stay behind and not track back to defend. This transition happened when he made the switch to Juve and it was the right choice.

He managed to lead Juve to two Serie A titles as their main striker. He even outscored Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku in the 2020-21 season which was a huge accolade since the Belgian was in unreal form during that campaign. 

With his move back to Manchester, it’s obvious that Ronaldo is more of a goal poacher nowadays. While the term might sound like an insult, this is actually good for his team because he always finds a way to score goals inside the box. He typically looks for crosses into the box and he uses his smarts to score goals using tap-ins and short volleys. 

Ronaldo is getting older but he will find a way to adapt to the modern style. He is becoming more of an outright centre-forward now and it has turned out well for him since he doesn’t have many defensive responsibilities now.

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Ronaldo wants to keep up with Lionel Messi

With Leo winning his record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or award, the debate between Ronaldo and Messi is heading in the Argentine’s direction. The debate has been raging on for a long time now and CR7 wants to keep up with his longtime rival. This is unlikely now given Ronaldo’s age but anything is possible with the Portuguese maestro.

Football fans have been spoiled with both of these stars headlining over the past two decades. They always inspire each other to play at the highest level. Both players have continued to evolve their playstyles over the years but Ronaldo has arguably passed through different phases.

Ronaldo has continuously adjusted to how the game is being played now. He wants to keep in step with Leo who is arguably the most diverse forward in the history of the sport. Ronaldo is keeping in step by scoring goals at a higher clip. He has also evolved as a leader which is key for helping younger players to improve too.

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Ronaldo knows he is ageing

CR7 is an elder statesman now but he is still producing like a player in his prime. Ronaldo knows that he is ageing and he has to take care of his body. This has led to some struggles when it comes to shifting his style towards an off-the-ball player. He is not as involved as before because he does not dribble as much. 

The step-over dribble was a signature move back in the day but he rarely does it now. He is locked into playing as a striker because he knows he doesn’t have to exert his body as much but he is still making a big impact. He is a target man who has limited moves now but he still makes it work. 

With the experience that he has accrued over the years, Ronaldo knows that he has to maximize his production while staying healthy. With strikers like Jamie Vardy and Zlatan Ibrahimović, CR7 knows that he has to play more of a selfish style for the overall success of his club. 

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Success is always a driving force

CR7 is a consistent winner with countless trophies over the years. He wants to maximize his success over the next few years since he’s getting older. He wants to keep winning despite ageing. He is in the latter stages of his career even if he doesn’t think so. He looks a step slower now and it will get worse as he ages. 

Despite these struggles, you can expect Ronaldo to do his best to buck the criticism. He thrives when he’s doubted and for the rest of his career, you can expect CR7 to stay in the upper echelon of the world’s best strikers. CR7’s drive for success should never be doubted given his evolution.

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: PA