Before diving head first into examining Cristiano Ronaldo's capabilities as he celebrates his 35th birthday, it's best to tackle the question at hand first.


​We need to define what is 'stopping'.


Does that mean he's not the player he once was, and that his performances aren't what they used to be? If so, this piece can end rather abruptly because, yes, he isn't the Ronaldo of the back-to-back Ballon d'Or winning times of 2013 and 2014.


But does that mean he's stopping in any way? No, it most absolutely does not.

Before going any further - as is customary - it only seems right to wish the man himself a happy birthday. When we look back on this period of footballing history, we'll all be thankful that we had the pleasure of watching one of the game's greats in action. He truly is, one of the best ever (15th best ever).


But that's the thing, he still is one of the best ever and, more importantly, still one of the best right now. 


Take a look at this season alone; in 19 ​Serie A outings he's bagged himself a healthy 19 goals. If he was plying his trade in the Portuguese league and hitting such heights then naturally it wouldn't be particularly impressive.


That's not the case though, and instead he's doing it in one of Europe's top five leagues, for one of the continent's top sides, in an engrossing and tightly contested title race. It's also worth mentioning he's scored in nine consecutive Italian top flight matches this term, the first ​Juventus player to do that since David Trezeguet in December 2005.


So, based on all of that, no, he's not stopping.

But if you take a look at the bigger picture then it's worth factoring in that his all round displays are, expectedly, not as they once were.


Positionally he's altered his game to match his capabilities, something that is perfectly acceptable when a player is nearer to 40 than he is to 30 years of age. It's been a gradual process, moving from the wing into a left-sided forward role, but players change position all the time to accommodate age​Ronaldo simply isn't as quick as he once was, and tracking back is far less of a requirement than it once was.


Who cares, though? The man is at peak physical condition, and every time he steps onto the pitch the debate is not usually if he'll score, but rather, how many.


The flicks and tricks that caught Sir Alex Ferguson's gaze in 2003 don't come off quite as often, but it's when the goals dry up that people will start to genuinely ask whether Ronaldo is, indeed, stopping.

Let's summarise. Yes, we are looking at a player who is not what he once was. However, the player he once was stood head and shoulders above the rest - bar one - for a freakishly long period of time.


The Ronaldo we look at now is still one of the best. While his 'best' may not be the level of yesteryear, it's still a pedestal that most aspiring footballers can only dream of stepping foot on. Yet, if you took away his goals, his contribution to Juventus is not as profound as he's produced throughout the rest of his career. 


But why would you do that? How can you discount a goal-per-game ratio in the Italian top flight this season? You can't. Moreover, you can't discount dragging a Portugal side with José Fonte in it to the European Championships in the summer. Behave.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-LAZIO-BLACKANDWHITE

Happy birthday to one of the all-time greats.


Ronaldo isn't stopping just yet.


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