Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest soccer player in history, could make his debut for new club Juventus in the MLS All-Star game Aug. 1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Ronaldo’s $123 million transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus was announced Tuesday. Because the transfer was just announced, Ronaldo’s summer plans with the club haven’t been announced.
Ronaldo, a 33-year-old native of Portugal, led Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles and four in five years. In nine years with the Spanish giants, Ronaldo scored 311 goals in 292 appearances to help the team win two La Liga titles.
It will have been 31 days since Ronaldo last played, when Portugal was eliminated from the World Cup, before the MLS All-Star game.
Juventus has games July 25 against Bayern Munich in Philadelphia and July 28 against Benfica in Harrison, N.J. before it travels to Atlanta.
Ronaldo, because of achievements in sports at Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid, combined with his movie-star looks, is a global icon.
He became famous for his dribbling ability in his teens before he started to develop an all-around game that included his speed and shooting ability at Manchester United, where he scored 84 goals in 196 appearances.
He was sold to Real Madrid for a then-record $106 million before the 2009 season.
His rivalry with Leo Messi at Barcelona developed into one of the greatest in modern sports. Either of the players have won the Ballon d’Or, given to the world’s best player, since 2008. Ronaldo has won it five times since 2008, including each of the past two years. He also has finished second in the voting five times since 2007.
At Real Madrid, Ronaldo continually re-invented himself as he aged. He now is considered one of the sport’s greatest finishers.
Success with Portugal eluded him until helping the country win the European Championship in 2016. He left that title game with an injury.
His possibly playing in Atlanta would be a moment for the city similar to Muhammad Ali fighting at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium in 1970, or Pele playing at Atlanta Stadium in 1968.
Ronaldo didn’t play in last year’s MLS All-Star game in Chicago that featured Real Madrid because he was on an extended summer break. He was also facing tax issues in a Spanish court.
Atlanta United’s Gerardo Martino will manage the MLS All-Star team that will face Juventus. The team will include several Atlanta United players.
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