Former Real Madrid forward and current Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the last player you would expect to see plastered all over the walls at FC Barcelona facilities. However, it has been revealed that the club has done just that.
Apparently, the Catalan giants have decided to create some sort of a bizarre Ronaldo shrine in one of their first team dressing rooms. The wall is plastered with news stories and clippings featuring the Portuguese star and the time when he contracted Covid-19 last year.
According to Spanish publication AS, the Blaugrana are using Ronaldo as a poster child for what not to do during the pandemic. They are hoping that his positive diagnosis while on international duty with Portugal last year can serve as a warning for the Barcelona squad to always follow health and safety protocols.
Ronaldo tested positive back in October while he was with his national team. He had to return to Turin to complete his isolation period while he awaited medical clearance and negative test results. In the process, not only did he miss matches for Portugal, he also missed out on several crucial matches for Juventus including their Champions League group stage clash against Barcelona.
The Catalan giants won that match 2-0 in Turin, with Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi leading the way to victory. All Ronaldo could do was watch while he was isolating in the comfort of his residence just outside the city.
Barcelona's training centre, Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, now aims to remind players not to emulate the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, at least when it comes to Covid-19. The "Ronaldo shrine" is a strict warning to show exactly what would happen should any of them end up testing positive.
The Ronaldo "shrine" reportedly has the words "the competition is at stake" emblazoned on it, as well as "the rules are to be met" in bold red letters.
So far, only Sergi Roberto missed any matches for the club due to a positive result since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Sergio Busquets also got infected this summer, ahead of Euro 2020 while representing Spain.
Many parts of Europe are already starting to open up thanks to an aggressive vaccination drive, but cases are still rising due to the added mobility and the spread of the Delta variant. Even if players are protected by the vaccine, any positive test result will send them into isolation and possibly a string of missed matches.
Ronaldo's face is there to serve as a reminder that even though restrictions have loosened up, the threat still exists. Ronald Koeman, who recovered from Covid-19 before being appointed as Barcelona manager, knows all too well that he can't risk having his players sidelined by the disease.