Cristiano Ronaldo has started buying valuable time at Juventus, the Portuguese star is in prime position to give them the best farewell gift they could ask for.
The superstar still has two years left on his contract at the Turin club, but rumours are rife that he is ready to move on – possibly back to England, but more on that later – and Juve are eager to cash in on the playmaker and get his hefty wages off their bill.
Ronaldo has been a big hit in Italy since his move from Real Madrid back in 2018, twice winning the Serie A title and the Super Cup and bagging 52 goals in 64 matches for ‘the Old Lady’.
Fittingly, he grabbed the opener in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Sampdoria, a result that confirmed their ninth crown in nine dominant years. While that gift will fondly be remembered by the Juve faithful, Ronaldo can forever etch his name into the club’s folklore if he can go one better and carry the Bianconeri to European glory in the Champions League, when the competition resumes next month.
Juve are already safely into the quarter-finals, with the remaining matching taking place in one-legged affairs in a mini tournament in Lisbon.
However, for all their domestic dominance, they have failed time and again to get their hands on the European elite competition’s trophy. Fans need to hark back to 1995 -96 to recall the most recent of their two triumphs, thanks to a Fabrizio Ravanelli strike. Their first success came in 1984-85, via Michel Platini, Paulo Rossi et al.
Juventus are desperate to claim the Champions League silverware for a third time and they may just have the man to deliver it before he moves on to pastures new.
Ronaldo was in reflective mood after Sunday’s win, dedicating the Serie A title victory to the victims who have suffered the most during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Done! Champions of Italy. Delighted for the second consecutive championship and to continue building the history of this great and splendid club,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.
“This title is dedicated to all Juve fans, in particular to those who have suffered and are suffering from the pandemic that has taken us all by surprise by overturning the world.
“It was not easy! Your courage, your attitude and your determination were the strength we needed to face this tight final of the championship and fight to the end for this title that belongs to all of Italy. A big hug to you all!”
While that may sound like a farewell to the Juventus fans, the big question is where to next for CR7?
Before he swapped Spain for Italy, former employers Manchester United featured majorly in the transfer gossip pages, and it looked at one point he was destined to return to Old Trafford. That may be back on the agenda this shortened summer break, and public pressure from the fans — who would love to have him back — could sway the board to make a substantial bid to Juventus.
Two of United’s rivals are also in the frame as Chelsea have made their interest in the superstar known, while Jose Mourinho believes he would be a perfect foil for Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspur — but all three of these clubs would require a clear out of their own to make way for Ronaldo and his astronomical wage demands.
Wherever he ends up, he would dearly love to have another Champions League winner’s medal in his suitcase when he leaves Turin for good.