Turin – Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo says rumours that Cristiano Ronaldo could leave the club were to be expected after the Italian side’s Champions League exit to Porto on Tuesday.
Ronaldo was criticised for a disappointing performance after the Serie A champions were eliminated by the Portuguese side on away goals, their second consecutive last 16 exit in the competition.
Juventus’ quarter-final appearance in 2018/19 is the furthest they have gone in the Champions League since signing Ronaldo for €100 million (RM492 million) in 2018.
Their early exit this season led to speculation in the Spanish press that the forward could return to former club Real Madrid.
“It’s normal that he’s disappointed by what happened the other night, like the rest of the team,” Pirlo told a news conference.
“It’s normal to have rumours. He’s the most important figure in football and he’s always being talked about. But let’s remind ourselves that he’s always done well, scoring around 90 goals for Juventus, and has demonstrated his value.
“Failing to score in a match can happen, just like it can happen to others. But more of an uproar is made about him.”
Juventus have won the last nine Serie A titles, but their period of domestic dominance is at risk of ending this season. They sit third in the table, 10 points behind Inter Milan, although they have a game in hand over the leaders.
Pirlo’s side travel to struggling Cagliari on Sunday on league duty as they look to move on from the disappointment against Porto. They also have a Coppa Italia final against Atalanta coming up on May 19.
“In my career I’ve been through a lot of moments like this because I’ve won a lot but I’ve also lost a lot,” Pirlo said.
“I always tried to restart with great enthusiasm despite the great disappointment. We will do the same tomorrow, because we’re in March and still have 13 league games and a Coppa Italia final ahead of us.” — Reuters