Sarri sure he can improve Ronaldo

ROME • Maurizio Sarri believes that he is the coach who can make Juventus superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo a better player than he already is.

At a press conference at Turin's Allianz Stadium yesterday when he was unveiled as the Serie A champions' new manager, the 60-year-old Italian said: "I coached many good players and now I have to deal with the best one.

"He set plenty of records. I hope I can help him to establish more. I had a striker (Gonzalo Higuain, now at Juve) who set the Serie A goal record (36 at Napoli in 2016). I would like to have a second one."

The former Chelsea manager left the Blues after just one season but with a Europa League title and a third-place Premier League finish.

"It was a great experience but, in the latter half, I felt a professional and personal need to return to Italy," said Sarri, who will now be closer to his elderly parents.

"I feel that I have respected everyone and I gave my all."

Addressing the criticism he faced during his time in England, he added: "The world of the English media is well known to everybody: there are great newspapers and also some tabloids.

"All of the criticism and the attacks, the pressure, it will strengthen you."

Sarri also said that he was honoured to be approached by Juve, calling his appointment on a three-year deal the "crowning achievement" of his 29-year coaching career. "Being contacted by Juve was a strong sensation because I saw that the club was very determined in choosing me," he said.

As Sarri's past in Naples has irked some Juve fans, he added that he is used to scepticism and that the best way to get rid of it is to win.

"I understand that, but I know only one way to change that and that is to win and convince while getting results," he said.

"For three years, I would wake up and think about how to defeat Juventus, because they were a winning team. I gave 110 per cent, but we still couldn't do it. I will now give everything for this club."

It remains to be seen if Sarri, who appeared in a rare suit and tie yesterday, will be well-suited for Juve, while his habit of wearing a sweatsuit during matches has not been addressed yet.

"I'd rather wear it (sweatsuit), but we can talk about it. The main thing is that, given my age, they do not send me on the bench naked," he joked.

DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'Sarri sure he can improve Ronaldo'. Print Edition | Subscribe