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We used Football Manager to see if Cristiano Ronaldo can continue playing at the highest level until he’s 40

Can Ronaldo really cut it at the highest level for years to come? We decided to find out

It’s been another good season for Cristiano Ronaldo, as he became the first player to attain five Champions League titles.

Despite a slow start to the campaign, Ronaldo ended up with 44 goals in all competitions, including 15 goals in Europe.

Just another year in the life of CR7, eh?

Why Ronaldo will be a Dream Team World Cup must-have

  • Scored 44 goals in all competitions, level with Mohamed Salah
  • Helped Real Madrid to their fourth Champions League title in five years this season
  • Portgual face Spain, Morocco and Iran in Group B of the World Cup

What’s most remarkable about Ronny is how he’s managed to consistently perform at the very highest level.

But sadly, it won’t last forever.

Just like you and me, Ronaldo can’t escape the sands of time and will eventually retire, although the world’s finest No 7 continues to insist he’ll be sticking around at Madrid for as long as possible.

Will Ronaldo stick around beyond this summer after winning his fifth Champions League?

Will Ronaldo stick around beyond this summer after winning his fifth Champions League?

The forward, who turned 33 in early February, signed a new deal with Real Madrid back in 2016 which will keep him around until 2021.

And it was only last year that he claimed he’ll keep playing until he’s 41. But will he really still be knocking around until then?

We decided to find out. 

DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP Click here to pre-register for this summer’s brilliant game

Using our updated database on Football Manager 2018, we simulated the game through five years, stopping each time at the end of every season to check on his progress.

And we were pretty impressed.

Success in the present


In real life, it’s been another stellar campaign for Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates.

Having stormed to a league and Champions League double last term, Zinedine Zidane’s men have struggled to compete with very best in La Liga, but still managed to win the Champions League – their fourth in five years.


In our simulation, Ronaldo duly won the Best Player in Europe award at the end of the season, scoring 40 goals in 57 games.

But he failed to add to his medal collection, losing out on La Liga to Atletico Madrid, while his old employers Man United saw of Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League.


Beyond that, CR7 lead Portugal to the quarter-final the World Cup, eventually losing out to fellow Euro 2016 finalists France in a penalty shoot-out.


Los Blancos transition

Brazilian youngster Vinicius Junior will officially join Real Madrid this summer

Brazilian youngster Vinicius Junior will officially join Real Madrid this summer

Following a trophy-less campaign, Madrid got back to winning ways in 2018-2019, securing the league title over Barcelona by six points.

Ronaldo found himself playing a slightly less-regular role in the triumph, scoring just 19 league goals – his lowest tally since his final season at United.

In the summer before, Madrid signed the likes of Gelson Martins from Sporting and Kasper Dolberg from Ajax, while Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Brazilian youngster Vinicius Junior – who finally joined from Flamengo – became Zidane’s go-to attackers.

How the Real Madrid team is shaping up in 2020

How the Real Madrid team is shaping up in 2020

The following season was an improvement for Ronaldo, but Madrid once again failed to bring home any silverware and eventually Zidane was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.

Ronaldo netted 27-times in the league as Los Blancos settled into third-place behind Atletico and Barcelona, while Arsenal got the better of them in the last-16 of the Champions League – with Martins grabbing both goals in their 4-2 aggregate defeat.

Is Martins the sort of player Madrid could sign in the future?

Is Martins the sort of player Madrid could sign in the future?

It was another mixed back the following season, with Madrid winning La Liga and the Champions League.

However, Ronaldo had very little to do with the title, netting just 15-times in a seemingly reduced role behind the ever-improving Martins and the consistence of Bale.

He did, however, play a key role in the Champions League final, scoring in a 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Still around the top

Moving into the next decade, Ronaldo continues to find himself a regular in the Madrid squad, although he’s rarely a starter.

What’s more, his days as one of the best in Europe appear to be behind him.

At this point, Kevin de Bruyne, Paulo Dybala and a 34-year-old Lionel Messi are ahead of him in the Ballon d’Or standings.

Judging on KDB’s performance for City this season, we can definitely see him rubbing shoulders with the very best in the not-too-distance future.

KDB secures the 2021 Ballon d’Or

Getty - Contributor
KDB secures the 2021 Ballon d’Or

Even so, Ronaldo was still prolific in the Champions League in the 2021-2022 season, netting nine times in the competition as Madrid lost out to Barcelona in the quarter-final.

Ronaldo also experienced more heartache in his last-ever World Cup finals, losing out to Italy in the first knockout round of the tournament.

Final year

It finally happened

It finally happened

To keep up with likes of Atletico and Barcelona in La Liga, Madrid snapped up a certain Leon Bailey – who at this point played for Chelsea – for £84m.

The winger’s presence in the team dropped Ronaldo – at this point aged 39 – further down the pecking order, and he announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2023-2024 season.

He played 21 times overall that season, 19 times in the league, scoring nine goals in total.

His appearance against Valencia in May 2024 broke the record for the oldest player to represent Madrid, yet he didn’t quite manage to break Raul’s all-time tally of 550 appearances for the club – stopping at 484.

So, there we have it, the lengthy and legendary career of Ronaldo.

It’s nice to think that he’s maybe got a few years left in him yet – and you never know – he might even surpass what Football Manager predicted for him.

Dream Team World Cup has landed!

The greatest show on Earth just got that bit more exciting.

That’s because the Dream Team World Cup game is coming ahead of this summer’s tournament.

Dream Team World Cup

Can Messi finally achieve glory internationally?

Getty Images - Getty
Can Messi finally achieve glory internationally?

The game officially launches on June 1but you can pre-register for the game now.

If you’re an existing Dream Team customer the World Cup game now appears in the app or you can enter here, but if you’re not follow these simple steps:

  • Download the Dream Team app
  • Create an account
  • Click on the World Cup banner below in the app and follow the pre-registration instructions

From Russia with a whole lot of love.