(Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a host of clubs this summer but he seems set to stay put at Juventus, tasked with an even more important role in revitalising the Italian giants.
Be it a return to boyhood club Sporting Lisbon, a move Ronaldo’s own mother suggested was a possibility, or another shot at the English Premier League with Manchester United, the 36-year-old has been subject to much transfer talk.
This week, Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport reported Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has offered his star client to English champions Manchester City, while Spanish TV show El Chiringuito claimed a return to Real Madrid could happen.
After Juve stuttered to a fourth-placed finish last season and were knocked out at the last 16 stage of the Champions League, Ronaldo, in the twilight years of his career, could be forgiven for seeking pastures new, to better his chances of further silverware before retiring.
But, as yet, no such move has materialised, with Real coach Carlo Ancelotti distancing himself from the man who won four Champions League winners medals in the Spanish capital.
“Cristiano is a Real Madrid legend and he has all my love and respect,” Ancelotti tweeted on Tuesday. “I have never considered signing him. We look forward.”
Ronaldo therefore appears likely to remain at Juve as they look to win back the Scudetto from Inter Milan, with last season’s top goalscorer in Serie A the focal point of the club’s title tilt once again.
New coach Massimiliano Allegri, back at Juve for a second spell in charge, has in fact called on Ronaldo to offer even more this season.
“Ronaldo is an extraordinary player and an intelligent guy,” Allegri told a news conference last month.
“We talked as we talked with other players and I told him that it will be an important season, he will have a completely different and greater responsibility than three years ago.
“He can’t just be a goalscorer, I expect him to take responsibility as the man he is, given we have a lot of younger players in the team.
“I can only imagine the difficulties that have been here over these two years.”
ALLEGRI’S CHANGE OF HEART
Coming into last season on the back of nine successive Scudetti, Juve looked well set to make it 10 titles in a row under the tutelage of rookie coach Andrea Pirlo.
While Pirlo lacked managerial experience, he understood the demands of the club, having won four league titles with Juve as a player between 2011 and 2015, and was expected to bring a more attractive brand of football to the team.
Allegri’s five seasons at the helm from 2014 to 2019 brought five league titles, four Coppa Italia wins and two runners-up finishes in the Champions League.
However, Juve decided after winning the 2019 Scudetto at a canter that it was time to evolve from Allegri’s effective but often unattractive football towards a more progressive style.
Two unsuccessful attempts to do that later, after Maurizio Sarri and Pirlo both lasted one season each, Juve are back where they started.
According to reports in Italian daily La Repubblica, upon his departure in 2019, Allegri told Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli to move Ronaldo on, as his large wages and influence on the side was holding them back.
But Ronaldo has remained as Allegri gets back to work on what he started, where he will instead look to the veteran superstar to take his young team forward.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge)