Barcelona and Real Madrid enjoyed the best years of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The two superstars of football, and arguably the greatest in history, lit up La Liga and catapulted the El Clasico into perhaps the biggest game of the season worldwide.
Both players have since moved on, with Messi’s departure sending shockwaves just a few weeks ago, and as they now sit in their twilight years, questions will be continued to ask on what’s next?
And it’s a question that feels rather complex. Lionel Messi has signed a two-year deal with PSG, with the option of a third year. That will take him up to the age of 36, or 37 if that option is taken.
That could see the Argentinian into retirement. He relies much more on speed and skill than Ronaldo, and a top European club after PSG would prove unlikely. Instead, we’ll likely see what Messi has always said he’d do, go back to Argentina and play for Newell’s Old Boys.
The career pathway of Lionel Messi to retirement now seems relatively straight forward. For fans, they have a few more years of Messi in the Champions League before he bows out and heads to his homeland.
For Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s a little different. Firstly, he’s two years older than Messi, and his future is a lot more uncertain. In fact, you could create a bingo card based on the number of clubs the Portuguese star has been linked to this summer. And even if you may consider yourself an advanced player when it comes to bingo, this one looks almost impossible to call.
What does feel clear is that retirement at Juventus seems unlikely. The Old Lady seems keen to let him go, and that could be as early as this summer. PSG and Manchester City have been touted as moves over the last week, with agent Jorge Mendes having reportedly been in touch with the Premier League champions offering Ronaldo’s services.
Of course, that would be unlikely. Ronaldo would surely not want to damage his reputation at cross-city rivals United, and it’s likely he would prefer a year or two at Old Trafford and bring his career full circle.
A return to Real Madrid has also gained some traction in the media. It’s reported manager Carlo Ancelotti is keen to secure his signature, while the twilight of his career may see him head to the USA, where he would be the real poster boy of the MLS, just as David Beckham was when he signed for LA Galaxy.