When Real Valladolid secured their return to La Liga at the end of the 2017/18 season after four seasons away from the Spanish top flight, few could have envisioned what the immediate future would hold at José Zorrilla. Back in May rumours began swirling that legendary former Brazilian striker Ronaldo could be considering buying a controlling stake in the club, and those were proven correct when he spent around €30m to purchase 51% last month. The 42-year-old is of course no stranger to La Liga, having spent time at both Barcelona and Real Madrid during his glittering playing career – and so having such a big name owning the club can surely only be of benefit?
The takeover is historic, with Ronaldo now becoming the first former player to purchase a top flight club in Europe. He immediately set out his goals for the club when speaking at the official press conference announcing his arrival, saying; “We want to build the best possible team to compete in the league. You can count on us to make sure that Real Valladolid will cement its place in the Liga and will carry on building dreams. With the unity that we have here, I am sure that it will be very hard to beat us.”
The former Inter and AC Milan striker also stated his intention to help guide Valladolid into Europe, insisting that the club will soon become a “force” in continental competition. His connections within the game will likely only help smooth that growth, with a number of Real Madrid players having now been linked with making the 190km journey north on loan. One would expect these to be some of Real’ up-and-coming players as opposed to their seasoned stars, but nevertheless the prospect of seeing some of Los Blancos’ future wearing the violet and white strips will be as exciting a notion as just about any other at the club right now.
Vallavolid have had a solid – if unspectacular – start to their first campaign back in La Liga, sitting 10th at the moment. They are four points ahead of the relegation zone and have only won two of their opening seven games – but at such an early stage it would be difficult to predict just how their season can go with the World Cup winner taking the owner’s hotseat. For a start, his arrival was confirmed after the transfer window closed, and so it remains to be seen just how much capital is ready to be invested in new players. Valladolid have made good use of the loan system in recent years and so that would back up the earlier statement about bringing some players in from the Bernabeu, but how much cash is laid on the table for permanent deals is yet to be witnessed.
One would expect, however, that if Ronaldo wants to make the club a viable force in Europe then permanent signings should be high on the agenda. No player has made the move directly from Real Madrid to Real Valladolid since Borja Fernández in 2006. While he himself has had something of a nomadic career since departing Valladolid in 2010, making a string of free transfer moves, he re-signed for the club last year – just at the time of their promotion push, like the start of his first spell at the club. If Ronaldo has anything to do with it, one would expect there to be a few to make that same journey in the coming months and seasons. Players such as Vinícius Júnior are among those Blanquivioletas fans are dreaming of seeing in their side before too long.
Whenever a big name player attaches himself to a club who he has not been previously linked with there is a sense of excitement and growing optimism. If Ronaldo can make good on his vision for the club, he will likely go down as much of a legend there as he did at pretty much any club he played for. Real Valladolid are a club with a solid chance of progress at this stage, and the fans will certainly be excited about it.
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