Rome (AFP) – Italian champions Juventus are aiming for top spot in Europe after pulling off what is being called the “deal of the century” to snatch superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
Once the stomping ground of the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini, the league has lacked the stardust of Spain’s La Liga and the Premier League. Ronaldo’s arrival puts all eyes on Serie A and gives Juve a chance of going all the way in Europe.
“It’s a very big signing which marks a step up for everyone at the club,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has guided Juve to the last four of their seven straight league titles.
“I think that the club has done something extraordinary for Juventus and all of Italian football.”
The signing of the 33-year-old is the first time since his Brazilian namesake moved from Barcelona to Inter Milan in 1997 that an Italian club has signed a contender for the title of world’s best player, and the transfer is aimed at taking Juve to the top of the European pile.
Ronaldo has scored 120 Champions League goals, more than anyone else in the history of the competition, and won four out of the last five editions with Real.
– “New beginning ” –
“The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve brings us back to those prestigious 80s/90s when Italy collected top players: from Zico to Falcao, from Platini to Maradona … the arrival of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner represents a new beginning,” wrote Il Messaggero on Wednesday.
Last season, Allegri also led Juventus to their fourth consecutive Italian Cup, with the double taking their Scudetto total to 34.
But they haven’t won a Champions League since 1996 and despite reaching the final in 2015 and 2017, lag way behind seven-time winners and fellow Serie A behemoth AC Milan in Europe.
Allegri has masterminded the second phase of Juve’s rebirth from the ashes of the notorious “Calciopoli” match-fixing scandal, building on the domestic dominance re-established by former Italy coach Antonio Conte between 2011-2014 and making Juve a force on the continent.
Conte famously lamented Juve’s limited spending capacity compared to the giant investments being made in clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, likening the chances of an Italian team getting to a Champions League final to eating at a 100-euro restaurant with 10 euros in your pocket.