We ‘signed’ Cristiano Ronaldo for Chelsea and he was a perfect short-term fix
Cristiano Ronaldo could be set to leave Manchester United following his controversial comments made about the club, so we simulated a season with the striker at Chelsea.
Chelsea are once again being linked with Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese international’s future at the club hangs in doubt.
Concerns have been raised over Ronaldo’s future at Man United following the striker’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, with the 37-year-old taking digs at Erik ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick, the United hierarchy and more. Ronaldo has struggled for game time at United this season, and a move away looks almost certain in January following his comments.
Chelsea could be an option for Ronaldo, with a deal collapsing between the striker and the Blues in the summer due to Thomas Tuchel standing in the way of a transfer. But, with Graham Potter now in charge, Todd Boehly may get his wish and try again for the 37-year-old in January.
So, if Chelsea were to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in January, what could happen? We simulated the rest of the season to try and find out.
We ‘signed’ Cristiano Ronaldo for Chelsea in January
To set up this simulation, we used the brand-new Football Manager 2023 editor to arrange for the striker to join Chelsea on January 1, 2023, using FM23 to run the simulation. We then simulated the remainder of the 2022/23 season to judge the impact Ronaldo could have and if he could help put Chelsea’s season back on track.
Despite Chelsea’s lack of a clinical striker, Ronaldo didn’t become a regular when he arrived at the Blues, but he did manage a lot more game time than at Manchester United. In his first few months at the club, Ronaldo managed 26 appearances, with just seven of those starts.
Known for his big-game temperament, Ronaldo played best on his return to the Champions League, averaging a rating of 8.5 per game whilst scoring three goals in three appearances. In all competitions, the 37-year-old grabbed nine goals, averaging a rating of 7.12 per game.
The Portuguese striker started six and made 13 appearances off the bench in the Premier League, the competition where Ronaldo appeared the most. When compared to his teammates, the striker was the club’s joint-fourth top scorer, despite playing for half the season.
Along with Ronaldo, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored nine goals, with the striker falling out of favour following the 37-year-old’s arrival. Raheem Sterling was the club’s top scorer with 22 goals, whilst Kai Havertz grabbed 15 and Mason Mount notched 12.
At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2023 put together an overall best Chelsea XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what it looked like:
Full Chelsea best XI: (3-4-2-1): Kepa; Fofana, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Jorginho, Kante, Cucurella; Mount, Havertz; Sterling.
Neither Ronaldo nor Aubameyang made the best XI, with Sterling starting as a striker with Mount and Havertz sat behind.
After returning from injury in the new year N’Golo Kante, Reece James and Wesley Fofana all made the best XI, whilst Marc Cucurella was chosen over Ben Chilwell at left wing-back.
After the new year, Chelsea showed incredible improvement under Potter, surging up the table in a few months that even saw the Blues go on a 10-game winning streak. After 38 games, Chelsea ended the season in third place.
Potter got the Blues playing impressive football, but their defensive resilience was the most impressive as they conceded just 28 goals in the league all season – only 11 more than they’ve conceded in the Premier League currently. Joint on points with Arsenal in second and four points behind winners Manchester City, Ronaldo’s addition did help the Blues become shock title contenders.
Chelsea were also 11 points clear of fourth place, tallying 78 points in total. Ronaldo played four of his games in the FA Cup, and the striker scored in the FA Cup final penalty shootout to help the Blues win a trophy.
After a 0-0 draw in 120 minutes, Chelsea won 3-1 on penalties against Tottenham to win the competition they missed out on last season. Potter also led the Blues to the Champions League semi-finals, but a 4-3 loss to Man City on aggregate saw the Blues eliminated.
Overall, FM23 predicts that a move to Chelsea could suit both Ronaldo and Chelsea, with the 37-year-old getting more game time and scoring goals, helping the Blues claim a spot in the top four and the FA Cup trophy. As a short-term option, Ronaldo could prove useful to Potter as Chelsea look to get their season back on track.