TURIN, Italy (AP) — If you can’t beat him, buy him.
The $131 million that Juventus spent to lure Cristiano Ronaldo away from Real Madrid is already paying off on the field and off it.
Ronaldo scored a hat trick against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, giving the Italian team the three goals it needed to overturn a 2-0 loss from the first leg.
The win earned Juventus a spot in the quarterfinals, worth at least 16 million euros ($18 million) from UEFA and ticket sales.
“That’s why Juventus signed me,” said Ronaldo, who has scored 24 goals this season. “I do my job and I’m very happy. It’s been a magical night.”
The Portugal forward was brought in to help Juventus finally win the Champions League again after some tough losses to Real Madrid, a team at the time led by none other than Ronaldo.
His goals against his old team on Tuesday have already proved historic. The result led Juventus back from a two-goal loss in the first leg for the first time in club history.
The victory also helped boost Juventus’ share price on Wednesday morning. The rise was so sharp that trading on it had to be temporarily halted after opening on the Italian Stock Exchange with a 23 percent increase on Tuesday’s closing price.
That same stock market had taken a hit three weeks ago, with the club’s share price dropping more than 9 percent after its 2-0 loss in Madrid.
Juventus’ presence in the quarterfinals and the manner in which it qualified will also boost its coffers in a way that is hard to quantify: Brand improvement.
That is something Juventus has been working on for several years and which included the changing of the club logo and the signing of Ronaldo, which increased its following on social media by tens of millions.
This season, Juventus has already received 94 million euros ($106 million) from UEFA and that could rise to almost 130 million ($147 million) if the Italian team wins its third European Cup — and first since 1996.
That figure doesn’t include ticket sales. Juventus made a record 5.5 million euros ($6.2 million) on Tuesday from gate receipts, including hospitality. That beat the previous mark of 5 million euros ($5.7 million) from its 2-1 loss to Manchester United earlier in the season.
And that will likely be surpassed no matter which team comes to the Allianz Stadium for the quarterfinals.
Ronaldo hasn’t had the easiest time off the field after being accused of rape in the United States, but his influence on the field cannot be overestimated.
Just look at Real Madrid, which had won the last three Champions League titles with Ronaldo but couldn’t even reach the quarterfinals this year without him.
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