Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts at the end of the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid and Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on January 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Those are the money stats and those are what Ronaldo has used to make his claim as the world’s greatest. After all, football is won by the team scoring most (or conceding the least depending on how you look at football and indeed life). However, you must score to win, and Ronaldo realised there was a lot of glory to be had by becoming a specialist. He’s probably the greatest specialist in scoring to have ever played the game. That makes him the smartest man in football history. Why? He recognised his overall game would never again be able to draw parallel with that of Messi’s and adapted accordingly.

It’s not a con. It’s the strategy of a man who knows the audience and it has been brilliant.

That remarkable goal-scoring record comes a price, however. To illustrate, Roberto Firmino is a man often criticised for his goal record because he is judged by his position of number nine and not his role as a false nine. Why this comparison? Bobby is also a man who has evolved to play the nine position over time, and as such, should bring skills that are not the norm for a centre forward to the position. Ronaldo, though, is now a striker through and through.

Bobby has managed to contribute 0.84 goals per assists per 90 this season, right in the middle between Cristiano last season and Cristiano this campaign. However, he’s created more chances (1.97 to 1.88), made more successful passes (26.1 to 22.2), taken less than half the shots, better shot accuracy, completed more dribbles (more than double) at a better success rate, made seven times more tackles and interceptions (2.1 to 0.3) and made twice as many assists. His worth is leagues greater than that of Ronaldo unless the former Manchester star is scoring.

It comes with age and specialists often find the going much tougher when the thing that made them great (and in Ronaldo’s case, extraordinary) goes for whatever reason.

He can get back

The facts are ominous for Ronaldo as he ages that his aura will continue to diminish. The stats that masked that decline for so long, even leading to ‘best player’ awards has shown signs of steady to now rapid decline. Perhaps the Messi-Ronaldo era is winding to a close with the emergence of Neymar, Kevin de Bruyne and even Harry Kane and Mo Salah as possible Ballon d’Or contenders.

However, write off this man at your own peril. The signs may not point to a resurgence, but when has Ronaldo ever appealed to convention. The timeliness of his goals are also a major reason why he’s easily top two in history. For now though, CR7 is toxic; and with his teammates that helped to advance his cause as a world elite having dips in their own stellar form, that fact is even more magnified.