Where to Now, Cristiano Ronaldo?

I have to keep reminding myself that he's 23 years old.

Somehow, it seems like he's been around for a decade or so.

And I've learned that you have to be careful what you say about him; a few weeks back I said something about how he was having a great year (which seemed sort of undeniable to me) and was immediately subjected to the type of abuse normally reserved for child molesters and San Jose fans.

And while I really don't much mind when people fill the comments with "Archer, you ignorant slut" remarks, page after page of them sort of distract from the topic, so I try to avoid them when I can.

So I hope we can all just remain calm when I observe that, maybe, Ronaldo isn't too bad.

(Of course I'm referring to the chisel-featured Portugal striker with the girlfriend who can't keep her shirt on, not the fat, clownish Brazilian who can't keep his pants on when someone offers him a twenty dollar rub job)

Be that as it may, he is apparently eager to move on to ManUnited South (Real Madrid) as that side continues to believe that if they can just spend enough money on ex-United assets (they even hired away their strength coach) they can turn themselves into a money machine too.

(Although they ought to stop and take a look at the latest financials which show ManU deep, deep into the red, or "never-never" as Michael Platini put it)

Brazilian WonderCoach Big Phil Scolari, now headed for Chelsea, said today that he thinks Ronaldo should definitely follow his dream and go to Spain. One wonders how much of that is said from love for Ronaldo and how much is Phil's earnest desire not to have to coach against the kid.

However that turns out - and officials at Manchester have said that he'll "sit in the stands" before they'll hand him over, but that's likely just a negotiating tactic, and to Ronny's credit he's still saying that he "hopes something can be worked out" but is hardly threatening to go one trike or play awful or sit out or anything like that. Yet.

Still, with Real ready and even eager to hand over an estimated 80 million pounds for the guy, shattering the world transfer price record, Ronaldo meanwhile has again damaged whatever claim to greatness he might have by, to put it kindly, "underperforming" on the world stage.

His only previous international accomplishment was at the 2006 World Cup when he provoked Wayne Rooney into shoving him, earning Rooney a sendoff. Ronaldo's smarmy "explanation" ("Wayne is my teammate, I would never do such a thing, blah, blah) only served to make the whole thing uglier.

But if the Portuguese hero is to take his place amongst the pantheon of world soccer immortals (did you hear Pele was robbed at gunpoint in Brazil yesterday?) then he's going to have to show up in the big time events.

To be sure, as I noted, there's still time for him. But when you shoved a Maradona or a Pele out there on the biggest stages, they lit up and raised their game to whole new levels.

Great players live for the challenge and thrive on the pressure. Ronaldo has yet to do much along those lines and while the money is nice, he's already so rich that his grandchildren will be driving Ferraris. He wants something more.