Five-time Ballon d’Or winner, record hunter and frustrated glory at Manchester United, who fired him for a time after refusing to come into play against Tottenham (2-0, October 19), Cristiano Ronaldo is an ambivalent character. Thierry Marchand, former journalist from france football, relied on nine face-to-face encounters with CR7, now 37, to crack him and publish his first book with Flammarion editions. On sale this Wednesday, November 9 (19.90 euros), Christian he draws the intimate portrait of a man much more sensitive and torn than he appears to be. We have selected some of the best sheets.
The cover of Cristiano, by Thierry Marchand, published by Flammarion. 272 pages, €19.90. (flammarion)
“Paris? The door is open”
CR7 (34 years old at the time), during a meal after the C1 match Juventus Turin-Lokomotiv Moscow (2-1), October 22, 2019
” “So Cristiano, when do we see you in Paris?” I knew that Ronaldo loved the capital. And that he sometimes traveled there on his days off, incognito. Above all, he was sure that he dreamed of being summoned there again, to receive a sixth Ballon d’Or. His response sounded like a promise, but not in the way he expected: ”The door is open.” It was said. […] He insisted: “Only with the Portuguese from the Paris region, the club could fill the stadium. I look good in the Parc des Princes, in front of fifty thousand Portuguese. It would be great.” It was no longer a chimera but an offer of service. If Nasser al-Khelaïfi had been in the room that night, he would only have had a piece of paper to hand over to make him a PSG striker. It was too easy, almost unreal. For five minutes, CR7 showed off the charms of the Parisian club as probably none of its leaders could have done.
The entire catalog was there. Paris was rich, Paris had ambition, Paris had Neymar and Mbappé, two players he adored. Paris had witnessed his coronation with Portugal in 2016. Paris would understand him better than anyone, Paris would make him shine brighter than any of his lights. And Paris would necessarily offer him a new Ballon d’Or. In the room of the Tàola restaurant, an area of the Turin club, CR7 loudly recited his vibrant love letter to PSG. »
Kylian Mbappé against Cristiano Ronaldo, February 14, 2018 in Madrid (Real win 3-1 against PSG). (Benjamin Cremel/The Team)
Lionel Messi. ”The other”, as Jorge Mendes (Ronaldo’s agent) used to say. Cristiano respected what Messi was doing. From the depths of his probity, I’m even sure he admired her. And that’s probably why he didn’t hate the player, but the man. ”It’s so easy to stay in your bubble when you’re successful, He threw me out of the blue, without ever naming the person who fueled his rancor. Do not leave your comfort zone (Editor’s note: Messi will leave Barça for PSG in the summer of 2021), like I always have. Look, I dared to come to Turin, to change clubs, championships, football culture. I put myself in danger. I took this risk that I’m sure made me lose the Ballon d’Or last year. I don’t regret anything, but…” The conjunction had betrayed him. East ”but” obviously he wanted to say yes, of course he was sorry!
[…] I felt the sap rise. But I was still stunned when he gave me this ruthless line, straight out of his atavistic resentment: “If Messi wins the Ballon d’Or this year, I’ll quit football!” The charge was as surprising as it was violent. Instinctively, he wanted to be a dissuasive threat and he harbored all the aversion he felt inspired by the one without whom he would have reigned, undisputed and unequivocal, over the kingdom of the penguins, as the world of football is nicknamed. This diatribe meant above all that a victory for the Argentine was really unbearable for him. It would put an end to that hope, omnipresent in him, of overtaking him in the Ballon d’Or list. To overcome it. And even to lower it, if only for the space of a year. Messi’s omnipotence bristled to the point of throwing in the towel. » (Editor’s note: Messi finally won the Ballon d’Or in 2019, then in 2021, bringing his total to seven trophies.)
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the Santiago-Bernabéu stadium, during the Clásico on April 23, 2017. (Franck Faugère / L’Équipe)