Real Madrid decided to sign Cristiano Ronaldo away from Manchester United in the summer of 2009 hoping to end FC Barcelona's supremacy. It would be fair to say that Ronaldo and his teammates have fought hard against Messi and Co. ever since that signing was confirmed, but Cristiano Ronaldo has only led Real Madrid to four major trophies -- two of them being Copa del Rey titles -- while Barcelona have won eight during that same span of six complete seasons.
It's not all Cristiano Ronaldo's fault. This is a team sport and FC Barcelona have simply been the better team. However, Real Madrid's lack of ability to capitalize on Cristiano Ronaldo's prime proves that it's about time for the Portuguese to pass the torch and let another player become Real's most important man on the field. Whether Los Blancos have that player on the current roster or not is an entirely different discussion. Real Madrid need to sell Cristiano Ronaldo this next summer as the Portuguese's competitiveness and hunger will not allow him to be a secondary player in this club.
Here are the main reasons why Real Madrid need to part ways with the Portuguese attacker.
1. It's now or never. This could be the last chance for Madrid to make some money off Ronaldo's transfer. He will turn 31 years old in a few weeks and it could already be difficult to convince other teams to pay Cristiano Ronaldo as much as he's earning currently with Real Madrid -- €20 million/year --. If Cristiano doesn't leave Real Madrid next summer, he will most likely stay with the club until his contract expires in the summer of 2018. Under the current circumstances, Real should not waste two good years of Luka Modric, Karim Benzema or Marcelo and they should work hard to find Cristiano a good place to finish his career while building a good team around the players mentioned above.
2. He is not the player he was. Ronaldo can still score goals, that's for certain. However, all those goals are almost worthless. Real Madrid would only have 2 points less in the Liga BBVA table without Cristiano Ronaldo's goals. He has not scored against Sevilla, Barcelona, Valencia, PSG (twice) or Atlético de Madrid this season. Cristiano was a decisive player in his prime and won titles for Real with his goals, but he is not performing well in big games anymore.
3. Ronaldo is taking minutes away from important players. Isco and Gareth Bale like to play on the left wing and they have not been given the chance to do so ever since they signed for Real because of Cristiano's presence. Sure, the Portuguese could develop into a good center-forward, but reports suggest that he simply doesn't want to play there. Ronaldo's speed and ability to shoot from distance was the key behind his success as a left-winger but the days when he could dribble past opponents are long gone.
Bonus track: Neymar? Real Madrid are reportedly interested in paying the €190 release clause on Neymar's contract with FC Barcelona. Those reports are obviously premature since it would be very hard for Madrid to get that deal done, but Neymar would be the ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and it would not make any sense to have them both in the squad.