The soccer news starts with something that seemed reserved for clubs outside of Serie A. That is until Italian champions Juventus went all in and set a new incoming transfer record in Italy. It cost them over $131m dollars to get Cristiano Ronaldo, and with it they sent a clear message. In an era of Premier League money and Spanish dominance in Europe, Juventus decided to play.
It's not often that the key player on a Champions League winning team decides to call time on a club, but this isn't a regular offseason for Real Madrid. They've already lost their coach, Zinedine Zidane, and with him at least some of the momentum that produced their Champions League three-peat. Zidane's decision convinced pundits that Real Madrid was a club in transition. Ronaldo and Gareth Bale both suggesting their time with the club might be over helped fuel that narrative. Still, Ronaldo actually leaving and for Juventus? That's a surprise even at the jaded heights of super club soccer.
That's also the biggest takeaway here. Juventus, the club most vocal about the future of the game in Europe and the need for some form of a breakaway, made a super club move. That's no longer the expectation for Italian teams. Until yesterday's announcement that Ronaldo was really leaving Real Madrid, the only incoming transfer in the top-ten was Juventus buying Gonzalo Higuain from fellow Italian club Napoli. Juventus appears on the other side of the ledger at #6 when they sold Paul Pogba back to Manchester United that same summer.
Since we're still in the era of PSG setting the transfer market, they've got the top two spots. It might be awhile before any team beats what they paid Barcelona for Neymar, last summer's surprise super club shakeup. PSG paid over $170m to make Kylian Mbappe's loan move from Monaco permanent, setting the high mark this summer as well. They also got Juventus's legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on a free transfer, the kind of move that was understandable until Ronaldo chose Juve.
In their goodbye for now statement on the club's official site, Real Madrid did what they do best. They kept it classy, ending with a reminder for their all-time leading scorer and key to their latest era of dominance. "Cristiano Ronaldo will forever be one of Real Madrid's biggest icons and will represent a unique figure for future generations. Real Madrid will always be his home."
What happens to Real Madrid this season was supposed to be the beginning of the post-Zidane era. Now, it's firmly the post-Ronaldo era. For Juventus, it's doubling down on their own expectations. They've won Serie A seven seasons in a row. That's not the problem. It's the Champions League final losses to Barcelona in 2014-15 and Real Madrid in 2016-17. Juventus joins everybody else trying to break the Spanish lock on the Champions League since 2013-14. That takes acting like a super club and spending accordingly.
ESPN's Mark Ogden on Ronaldo leaving for Juventus. The Guardian's Sid Lowe with what Ronaldo meant to Real Madrid. AP reports on the ownership situation at AC Milan. BBC Sport has the scenario that would make Maurizio Sarri the manager of Chelsea.
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Logo courtesy of Juventus