MILAN, July 28: Massimiliano Allegri brushed aside speculation about Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus future insisting on Tuesday the Portugal captain was fired up for the new season.
Allegri, 53, returns as Juve coach two years after being replaced despite winning a fifth consecutive league title, paying for the club’s failure in the Champions League they last won in 1996.
It was Allegri who brought Champions League record goal scorer Ronaldo to Turin in 2018 on a four-year deal to try and win the European title after finishing runners-up in 2015 and 2017.
“Ronaldo? He’s back with great motivation,” Allegri told a press conference of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner who had been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
“Ronaldo is a great champion, an extraordinary player and an intelligent lad. I talked to him just as I talked to the other players.
“I told him that this year is an important year, that I am happy to find him again and that he has a greater responsibility than three years ago because we had a very experienced team back then.
“Today, in addition to putting his qualities on the pitch, I also expect things from him in terms of responsibilities.”
Allegri won 11 trophies during his half-a-decade spell with Juventus, also winning the Serie A title with AC Milan in 2011.
“The five years we spent together were wonderful, then we decided to separate because it was right and now we start a new cycle,” he said.
“I find a team that in the last two years has won a championship with Maurizio Sarri and two trophies with Andrea Pirlo.
“I am very happy with the team I have available. It’s an exciting challenge.”
Allegri’s first task will be to recapture the title from Inter Milan, who he believes start the season as “favourites,” and try to end their drought in the Champions League.
“It is everyone’s wish (to win the Champions League), but let’s take it slow. The first goal is to pass the groups. So let’s take it one step at a time,” he said.
“We are working to fix the team. When I started a few days ago, it felt like I went back 18 years when I started being a coach. I was excited.
Meanwhile, club president Andrea Agnelli confirmed veteran captain Giorgio Chiellini was ready to sign a new contract after leading Italy to the Euro 2020 title.
“He has been playing with us for sixteen years. He is our captain, it seemed ridiculous to me to have him interrupt his vacation to get him to sign the contract, Chiellini is not a problem at all.”
Juventus finished fourth last season and open their campaign at Udinese on August 22. (AFP)