Pirlo admits he 'didn't like results' before Juventus sacking
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Manchester United have been handed a huge boost in their hopes of signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus, with the Turin club leaving the Portuguese star off their main images for next season’s home strip.
Ronaldo finished last season as Serie A top-scorer with 29 goals in 33 games, but Juve failed to win the Italian title for the first time in a decade, with manager Andrea Pirlo sacked and rumours circulating that the club are planning a huge squad overhaul this summer.
The 36-year-old is on enormous wages in Turin and the club’s owners may be willing to let him leave to free up funds for a rebuild of the first team, and Manchester United are the club most heavily linked with a move.
And, in the latest indication that he could be on the move, Ronaldo was not included in Juventus’ main image to promote the release of their new home kit.
Matthijs de Ligt, Rodrigo Bentancur, Weston McKennie and Paulo Dybala were instead picked to advertise the strips, meaning this is the first summer in which Ronaldo has not been front and centre of the club’s promotions ahead of a new season.
Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and a Champions League during his time at Old Trafford before leaving for Real Madrid in 2009.
And, even at the age of 36, is seen as a useful option to lead the line next season in Manchester – if the club are unsuccessful in signing their primary targets.
Both Erling Haaland and Harry Kane are reportedly of interest to the United transfer bigwigs, who have already tied veteran Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani to another year’s deal at the club.
But Ronaldo, who has scored 479 league goals in his phenomenal career to-date, would be a far cheaper short-term alternative.
The player himself could be open to a return to a Manchester too, if United playmaker Bruno Fernandes is to be believed.
“Every time I speak with him, he asks me how Manchester is and if everything is okay,” Fernandes said of his Portugal teammate.
“Everyone knows he spent a lot of time in Manchester and he has consideration for the club.
“He likes the club, I think he won his first Ballon d’Or here, so it’s a club who’ve marked him, for sure.”
However, former Man Utd centre-back and current television pundit Rio Ferdinand is not expecting Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford this summer.
“I don’t think Ronaldo will happen,” Ferdinand told the Sun.
“That chapter has been written and it’s closed so I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening.
“Defence is the priority and what’s good about the Euros is there will be a good few centre-backs on show there.
“It’s also about who is available. I went to the World Cup and got bought off the back of a good season but also playing at a major tournament.
“This is a great opportunity for someone else to put themselves in the shop window and be purchased by a big club.
“Manchester United are in the market for a centre-back so what an opportunity for someone.”
Ronaldo added a Coppa Italia title to his enormous palmares earlier this year. And, writing on his Instagram page, revealed that this season’s achievements have completed a target he set for himself when moving to the Italian club.
“With these achievements, I reached a goal that I had set myself since the first day I arrived in Italy: to win the Championship, the Cup and the Super Cup, and also to be Best Player and Top Scorer in this great football country filled with tremendous players, giant clubs and a very own football culture,” Ronaldo said.
“Nothing compares to the feeling of knowing that I’ve left my mark in the countries where I’ve played, and that I gave joy to the fans of the clubs I represented.
“This is what I work for, this is what moves me and this is what I’ll always keep chasing for until the last day.”
Ronaldo will lead the Portugal team in their defence of the European Championship trophy this summer.
The Portuguese kick off their Euro 2020 campaign with a game against Hungary in Group F on Tuesday.
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