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Is Cristiano Ronaldo still a Champions League-level player?

Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr
© Ace Football

Cristiano Ronaldo is excelling in Saudi Arabia, but can he replicate the same performance in the Champions League? Roberto Martinez believes he can and explains why.

Roberto Martinez does not doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo would still be able to excel in the Champions League.

Ronaldo, who will turn 39 in February, continues to perform beyond his years. The striker ended 2023 as the highest-scoring men’s footballer, with 54 goals to his name. Not even Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, or Erling Haaland could match or beat his goal tally.

In contrast, Lionel Messi, a player widely regarded as Ronaldo’s career rival, finished with 28 goals.

“Totally,” Martinez told The Times when asked if Ronaldo could still compete in the Champions League.

“He’s incredible with his capacity to really reinvent himself. This is not the player we saw in the first spell at Manchester United, he’s not a wide player. Now he’s a finisher, someone who understands the quality of movement in the box, and is an incredible threat. And experienced.”

Ronaldo last played in the Champions League in 2022 for Manchester United. The veteran is a five-time winner of the competition. He is also the tournament’s all-time leading scorer, with 140 goals.

“Cristiano, first and foremost, is happy,” Martinez added on what sets the Al Nassr captain apart from his peers.

“What shocked me was how fresh he is with his approach in football: someone of 38 comes to training and wants to win every exercise, win every race, and is the last one leaving.”

Despite no longer playing in Europe’s elite club competition, Ronaldo is expected to lead Portugal in this summer’s Euro 2024 campaign.

He has enjoyed an outstanding start under Martinez, managing 10 goals and two assists in his first nine games under the Portugal manager.