Ronaldo fuels Juve's European dreams

Cristiano Ronaldo waving to Juventus fans as he arrived at the club's medical centre in Turin, Italy yesterday. He will earn a reported €30 million (S$47.9 million) a season.
Cristiano Ronaldo waving to Juventus fans as he arrived at the club's medical centre in Turin, Italy yesterday. He will earn a reported €30 million (S$47.9 million) a season.PHOTO: REUTERS

TURIN (Italy) • Juventus fans gave Cristiano Ronaldo a rousing welcome yesterday, before the club unveiled the superstar summer signing they hope will bring the Champions League trophy back to Turin.

Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Allianz Stadium in Turin from early morning singing "Ronaldo, bring us the Champions (League)" as the European competition's most lethal striker of all time made a brief appearance ahead of his medical check-up.

The 33-year-old emerged from the club's medical centre to sign autographs and shake hands amid raucous chants of his name before shooting back inside for further tests. Later in the day, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was officially unveiled to the world's media at a press conference.

Ronaldo fever hit Turin after the announcement last week of his €100 million (S$160 million) transfer from European champions Real Madrid, which the Italian media reports will cost Juve a total of €350 million.

The Portuguese's four-year deal will reportedly earn him a reported €30 million a season.

Many of the youngsters who came out to greet their new hero were wearing Juventus shirts emblazoned with "Ronaldo" and the No. 7, which have been selling like hot cakes in the city. Others wore T-shirts with the message "Bem-vindo" - "welcome" in Portuguese - which 5,000 shopkeepers put up on posters around the north-western Italian city ahead of Ronaldo's arrival late on Sunday.

NO GUARANTEE

Buying one of the top two players in the world means aiming even higher... but it's not written that they'll win in Europe, just as it isn't that they'll win another league.

DANIELE DE ROSSI, Roma midfielder, on Ronaldo's arrival at Juventus.

Juventus fans are hoping that Ronaldo's arrival will push them onto Europe's top table. Fresh from their seventh Serie A title in as many years and four straight domestic doubles, the Old Lady of Italian football have struggled to turn domestic dominance into European success as they strive for the continent's holy grail once more.

"Our hope is to win the Champions League that for now is the only objective that we've not been able to conquer," says Francesco, 38, from the Tuscan city of Pisa. "Ronaldo coming will only bring good things to Juventus."

Ronaldo has scored a tournament-record 120 Champions League goals and won four out of the last five editions with Real.

Juve have not won the competition since 1996 but reached the final in 2015 and 2017, when they were beaten respectively by Barcelona and Real.

"Now he has to repay us with interest," said another fan, Mario.

Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi admitted that Juventus will have a head start in the new Serie A season but warned that Ronaldo's arrival is no guarantee that they will retain their league title or win Europe's elite club competition.

"(Juventus) will start two to three steps ahead," the 34-year-old told Roma TV. "Buying one of the top two players in the world means aiming even higher, but he'll have to adapt and the team will have to adapt to him... Now with him, the objective is the Champions League, but it's not written that they'll win in Europe, just as it isn't that they'll win another league."

Napoli, runners-up in Serie A last season, revealed that they again lost out to Juventus in the off-season.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis told La Repubblica that his club also had the chance to sign the Portugal captain but could not work out a financially viable deal.

He told the Italian newspaper: "Ronaldo was also offered to Napoli. (Jorge) Mendes, his agent, called me. We formulated our offer and would have paid Ronaldo with the percentage of the income guaranteed by his arrival.

"The (€350 million) that Juventus invested (including wages) is beyond our reach. We would have risked pushing the club towards bankruptcy."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Ronaldo fuels Juve's European dreams'. Print Edition | Subscribe