Ronaldo staying despite starting season opener on bench, say Juve


Milan (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo will remain at Juventus this season despite being picked on the bench for their opening fixture of the new Serie A campaign at Udinese, club director Pavel Nedved insisted on Sunday.

Juve legend Nedved said that the decision to not start the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has been subject to intense speculation about his future this summer, was a “shared decision” between Ronaldo and returning coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“You shouldn’t try to create sensationalised stories where there aren’t any,” Nedved told broadcaster DAZN.

“He isn’t at peak fitness, and the coach tried to pick the best possible line-up for now… The decisions were made in order to be as competitive as possible today.

“He is absolutely staying at Juventus.”

Sky Sport Italia claimed that Ronaldo asked not to be picked in the starting line-up as he still hopes to leave the 36-time Italian champions before the end of the month, when the transfer window closes.

Allegri chose Alvaro Morata to lead the line in a front three which also included Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado.

Italy forward Federico Chiesa was named as a substitute while midfielder Manuel Locatelli, also one of the Azzurri’s Euro 2020 heroes, will begin his Juve career on the bench after moving from Sassuolo on Wednesday.

Top scorer in Serie A last season with 29 goals, Ronaldo was absent for Juve’s final warm-up against the club’s youngsters on Thursday.

However, on Friday Allegri said the 36-year-old wanted to stay despite talk he was trying to leave Juve, adding that the Portuguese attacker was ready to play in what will be his fourth and final season of his contract.

Allegri’s decision comes after a close season in which media around Europe have speculated that Ronaldo was looking for a way out of Juve, a club he joined in 2018 to huge fanfare.

On Tuesday, Ronaldo denied reports of a move to former club Real Madrid, calling them “disrespectful” and saying that stories of his departure were written with “nobody ever being concerned about trying to find out the actual truth”.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti had confirmed earlier the same day that the Spanish giants were not interested in the return of the man who fired the club to four Champions League triumphs.

Also on Tuesday Italian daily Corriere dello Sport said that agent Jorge Mendes had offered the Portugal captain to Manchester City.

Other outlets said that Paris Saint-Germain were interested in Ronaldo but stepped back once they pulled off the signing of the close season, bringing free agent Lionel Messi to the French capital.

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