Why Cristiano Ronaldo May Be Past His Prime

It doesn’t take a footballing expert to understand that Cristiano Ronaldo is on the decline.

The four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest football players of this generation. He has scored 616 goals for club and country with 4 UEFA Champions League winners medal.

He has won every possible honour in club football and led Portugal to the UEFA Euro title in 2016.

After 15 full seasons with Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be slowing down a bit.

For the first time in more than 10 years, he is going through a goal drought and his struggles are clearly visible.

It is quite natural for any player who played 15 successful seasons at the top-flight to slow down.

Now, let’s see some of the reasons below;

Slow Runs And No Threats Outside Box :

We rarely see the Cristiano Ronaldo of old who gets the ball anywhere on the field and just starts racing and dribbling his way past opponents towards goal. With age and injuries catching up with him, he is more selective about his runs. He is still one of the fastest in the world but a tad slower than he was a couple of years ago.

His goals from outside the box reduced drastically over the last couple of seasons and he is not the threat he once used to be. He does not contribute a lot to the build-up play and the stats below clearly shows where he was once and where he is now.


Shots from outside the penalty area (La Liga & UCL)

  • 2014/15 (Total/Per Game) – 126/2.9
  • 2015/16 (Total/Per Game) – 114/2.7
  • 2016/17 (Total/Per Game) – 74/1.8
  • 2017/18 (Total/Per Game) – 12/1.2


Decline In Set-Piece 

For a man who scored more than 50 free kick goals (for both club and country) in his illustrious career, his return has been poor in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 La Liga seasons where he just scored only once in each season.


Set-piece Goals (La Liga & UCL)

  • 2015/16 – 9
  • 2016/17 – 4
  • 2017/18 – 0


3 Goal Conversion Ratio Reduced Drastically

Those days when Cristiano Ronaldo single-handedly rescued Manchester United and Real Madrid are over. With just one goal from 40 efforts on goal, Cristiano Ronaldo has the worst conversion rate (2.5 percent) of all goalscorers in Europe’s top five leagues.


Goal Conversion Stats(La Liga)

  • 2014/15 – 21.33 %
  • 2015/16 – 15.42 %
  • 2016/17 – 10 %
  • 2017/18 – 2.5


Dribbles/Take-Ons Reduced 

Christiano Rolando took the Premier League by storm after he made his Manchester United debut in 2003/04 season.

Primarily a left winger, Ronaldo became noted for his dribbling and flair, often displaying an array of tricks and feints such as the stopovers that became his trademark during his days in England. But recent stats reveal that Cristiano Ronaldo has lost his dribbling ability.

It is being a little harsh on the player who plays more centrally these days and not as a winger. But his ability to take on the players has diminished over the last 2 to 3 seasons. He averaged over 100 dribbles a season in his first few years at Madrid but over the last few years, it had gone down to 50.


Ronaldo and Messi successful dribbles (La Liga & UCL)

  • 2014/15 – Ronaldo 79 – 166 Messi
  • 2015/16 – Ronaldo 58 – 151 Messi
  • 2016/17 – Ronaldo 40 – 154 Messi
  • 2017/18 – Ronaldo 12 – 77 Messi


Often Create Or Score Goals 

Ronaldo started his Manchester United career on the left wing and whenever he touches the ball, one can expect him to blast forward, weaving past the opponents with pace and trickery.

He influenced the game from midfield, breaking down attacks and creating goals. After his move to Real Madrid, Manuel Pellegrini preferred to play him in a more central role.

He became more of a goal scoring threat but often comes deep to influence the game.


Total Assists, Key passes per game (La Liga & UCL)

  • 2014/15 – 19, 2
  • 2015/16 – 15, 1.5
  • 2016/17 – 11, 1.3
  • 2017/18 – 1, 1.3


Should I say “Good things do come to an end”  and that could just be the case with Cristiano Ronaldo who has been at the pinnacle of football alongside Argentine rival, Lionel Messi. The Portuguese star has been a shadow of himself in a season that has seen Real Madrid lag behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race and even behind Tottenham in the Champions League. He also has the worst conversion rate of any player in Europe. Can we then conclude that his time at the pinnacle of world football is coming to an end? I think so.