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Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Greatest Ever Footballer Who Left the Premier League?

cristiano ronaldo signed man united shirt 600x600 Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Greatest Ever Footballer Who Left the Premier League?

It isn’t that often that I miss a Premier League footballer who decides to ply his trade overseas. But if I had to name one, it would be former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Now playing his football at Real Madrid, Ronaldo reached a unique milestone Saturday night after he scored his 100th and 101st goals for Real Madrid in 92 games for Los Blancos. The goals helped Ronaldo become the fastest footballer to ever hit 100 goals in the 110-year history of Real Madrid. Quite an accomplishment for an athlete who is still just 27 years old.

Ronaldo is the type of footballer who can be frustrating to watch. He goes in and out of games. At times, his exquisite skill is mind blowing. Other times, particularly in high pressure games such as el Clasico or in international matches for Portugal, he goes missing. But that’s part of the charm about Ronaldo. You never know which CR7 is going to show up. But more times often than not, it’s the explosive version that scores some simply sensational goals.

Just as Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United coaching staff transformed Wayne Rooney from a diamond with rough edges into the finished article, the same happened to Ronaldo. When the Portugese winger joined United from Sporting in 2003, Ronaldo was a showboating punk who could dazzle the crowd with his step-overs, but they would often result in a feeble pass or him losing the ball. Within weeks, Ronaldo dropped his step-overs and replaced them with a more direct and productive style of play that resulted in assists.

While Manchester United profited from the £80 million transfer fee that Real Madrid paid to bring Ronaldo to Spain, Manchester United could still benefit from his services if he was playing for the Red Devils. He’s the type of player who can frustrate defenders with his pace, incredible dribbling, superb passing of the ball and his lethal strikes. If that wasn’t enough, then you have his brilliant free kicks. That is certainly one aspect that Manchester United hasn’t been able to replace since Ronaldo left — a clinical scorer from free kicks.

I would argue that Ronaldo is the greatest ever footballer to have left the Premier League. Of course, many other stars have left the league to play elsewhere — David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Jurgen Klinsmann, Cesc Fabregas and Ruud van Nistelrooy, just to name a few, but none have lived up to the promise and results that Ronaldo has achieved on the world’s stage.

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This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Manchester United. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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32 Responses to Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Greatest Ever Footballer Who Left the Premier League?

  1. Brandon says:

    I would agree with your argument. I will qualify it and say he’s playing in a league where he’s given plenty of space, and let’s face it, some of the team defense in La Liga would have trouble in the English Championship. While I don’t like to get into Ronaldo-Messi comparisons, I tend to give Ronaldo more credit for having played in England. Messi is the better footballer over all, but you cannot convince me that Messi is the same player playing in any other league, for any other team, in any other system. Both players play in a system that benefits their skills, and while Messi is a much better big game player, Ronaldo doing a lot of what Messi does or can do at 6’2″ is impressive. Great article, as a United supporter and one of CR7s biggest fans since the 2003 signing, I just hope he decides to come back to OT to twilight his career.

  2. Turker AKDEMIR says:

    Absolutely yes. But there is only one condition that I have to mean –> After Beckham…

  3. Fernando says:

    Great take Gaffer.

    The Premier League has great players but La Liga has the two best ones.

    • Dave says:

      Which means nothing if they only play crap teams and score tons of goals against crap teams. I guarantee those two would score as much in the EPL which is why RVP’s year is so amazing.

      • Roberto says:

        Didn’t Atletico beat Chelsea 4-1 at the beginning of the season? Not to mention Athletic Bilbao beat Manchester United over both legs of their Europa League tie.

  4. Josh says:

    I think it’s quite a stretch. Even in modern history it’s hard to claim he’s the best. Thierry Henry dominated the EPL more than Ronaldo ever did.

    • Josh says:

      I hate to bring Messi into this, and I don’t intend to compare them. But if people insist that Leo has to win the World Cup to be the greatest ever – in other words, if people insist that trophies with your national team are crucial to being considered the best – then Thierry Henry is by FAR a greater player than Ronaldo.

      • Digger says:

        Nope, Messi is better than Ronaldo but Ronaldo is the best in the Premier League Era. Ronaldo is the only player from England ever to win World player of the Year Award and he did it against Messi and Kaka. Henry won the WC because he had a team mate that went by the name Zidane. You are just letting your Gooner support cloud your judgement.

        • Digger says:

          Also taking that both went onto play in La Liga , Ronaldo is simply making Henry look like a player who was successful because of that Arsenal team. Henry could only dream of doing what Ronaldo has achieved in La Liga goal totals.

        • Josh says:

          Has nothing to do with support for Arsenal. Ronaldo only won world player of the year against a Messi who was barely legal. People forget Ronaldo is in his prime years and Messi hasn’t reached his best years yet (just going by what years are traditionally the best for players.. somewhere between 26-30). Yes, Henry never won WPY but he was 2nd twice, and in the top 5 consistently for the better part of a decade. As an EPL player, Ronaldo wasn’t.
          Henry also won the golden boot 2 years in a row, which Ronaldo hasn’t.
          And don’t tell me Henry only won the WC because of Zidane. Obviously he didn’t win it alone, as football is a team sport, but Henry was France’s top scorer in the WC when they won it.
          I’m no claiming Henry is a better player overall, but his dominance in the “PREMIER LEAGUE” (not Spain) was greater than Ronaldo’s. Just even check their stats for EPL.. Ronaldo has only 2 great years, Henry has about 7 that equal or beat Ronaldo’s best 2. The only thing Henry didn’t do in England is win the CL, though he was arguably the best player in the CL final in 2006 and unlucky not to win it.

          • Dave says:

            OOH TO OOH TO BE OOH TO BE A GOONER!

            Word.

            And Henry still has gas int he tank as I watch him here in the MLS regularly. He’s only lost speed as his loan showed. We will see how good those two are when they are his age!

      • Ben says:

        Messi is a choker, he will another chance in 2014 in Brazil, scoring goals in la liga doesn’t impress me at all.

        Back to the topic, I agree that Ronaldo is the greatest players who played in the EPL, he haven’t won the World Cup yet but he is always good in international event, Messi is below average…

        • Fernando says:

          Re: Your Messi point. You are an idiot.

        • Fernando says:

          Well both Messi and Ronaldo both have not won World Cups. So by your standards they’re both chokers.

          Secondly, you clearly enjoy Ronaldo’s game and yet you say scoring in La Liga is not very impressive. So are you saying Ronaldo isn’t really that good either?

          So applying your logic, since neither have won World Cups and score in La Liga they are both chokers? I mean thats what you wrote.

          • Thomas says:

            Nevermind both having a pretty impressive haul in Europe as well…

            Some peoples bias of the EPL is unbelievable at times. Is it a great league, of course. But come on, do you really thnk it’s far and away better than Spain?

            Look at how poorly the TOP teams from England fared in Europe this season. If the rest of the world is too dumb to defend, why aren’t all 4 prem teams still in Europe?

    • Fernando says:

      Did Henry get better at Barcelona? Nope. Did Ronaldo get better at Real? Check out his staggering goal totals.

      How many World Player of the Year Awards did Henry win? Ronaldo won more Premier League titles then Henry as well.

      Both great players. Ronaldo left at his peak whilst Henry did not. Given the same amount of years in England I’m sure Ronaldo would rack up just as impressive goal numbers as Henry.

  5. Phenoum says:

    Missed something in the title…
    Greatest ever >diver< who left the prem…

    Seriously though – so glad i dont have to see his arrogant crap anymore. A diva and a diver

  6. Josh Tarrant says:

    I was at Old Trafford for CR’s debut. I have never known a Man Utd crowd give a standing ovation for a new signing especially a youngster.

    But he proved us all right over the years.

    I just wish Nani had made the same progression. Although he is a better than a couple of seasons ago – Nani is still far to frustrating, I dont understand why he still takes corner. I think in the last 4 years I dont think I have ever seen him take a good corner.

  7. Gab Miguel says:

    of course he is!

  8. Marc says:

    Macca was a gifted player.

  9. RVPFan says:

    Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Greatest Ever Footballer Who Left the Premier League? No.

    Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Greatest Ever Footballer Who Left the Premier League and lived up to the promises? Yes.

    The debate is there for Thierry to be the greatest footballer who left the premier league. He did not have a much bigger impact in Barcelona than what he had achieved in Arsenal, but you have to understand that Henry was in the twilight of his career and had spend almost all of his peak years in Arsenal. Ronaldo, on the other hand, was in his prime when he left and as Gaffer pointed out, a finished lethal product, with the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson and the United staff. So naturally, Ronaldo would win if the question is asked a little differently. But the greatest footballer to leave the PL? Maybe not.

  10. Dave says:

    La Liga is such a joke and getting worse. When the tax bill has to be paid it will only get worse. it’s a sinking ship and I would wager Messi and Ronaldo could be in England in the next 3-4 years…

    And for the record I think the best league in the world is in Germany. The EPL is second.

    • Na mate. Here is how it will go down.

      1) La Liga will fail with the tax bill.

      2) Barcelona and Real Madrid would still be alive and WELL and them along with the Spanish Federation will try to start a super league in Europe to replace the UCL and take the best teams in Europe in one super league.

      3) That plan will fail and somehow Barca and Real will join the EPL.

  11. Cody says:

    Henry was a better player when he left EPL than Ronaldo was when he left.
    If Ronaldo was still with ManU, I think he would be very close to being regarded as the best EPL player of all time.

  12. wtf man?! its just hyped up sh*t saying ronaldo dissapears in big games!! he is perfect in portugal! he has nothing,yet he does magical. while messi has a great cast,but simply sucks for his country.and once again,ronaldo scored in el clasico. what a way to do it this time! last 3 el clasicos,ronaldo 3 goals,messi 0.

  13. marina says:

    Yes indeed! He is a player you miss watching, I got over Henry… but man I wish Ronaldo would be playing in the league… he was lethal… some times frustrating but that’s what made him so great and entertaining… it felt as if you were playing the game yourself and had an adrenaline rush…he is not using his foot technique often for RM.. to me he lost that spark a little.. but he is a better player overall..

  14. CARON says:

    NO CR7 IS BETTER THAN THE UGLY DWARF

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