AIM­ING FOR THE SKIES

Ju­ven­tus want to con­quer Europe with Ron­aldo coup

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

ITAL­IAN cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus are aim­ing for top spot in Europe af­ter pulling off what is be­ing called the “deal of the cen­tury” to snatch su­per­star striker Cris­tiano Ron­aldo from Real Madrid.

Once the stomp­ing ground of the likes of Zine­dine Zi­dane and Michel Pla­tini, the league has lacked the star­dust of Spain’s La Liga and the Pre­mier League. Ron­aldo’s ar­rival puts all eyes on Serie A and gives Juve a chance of go­ing all the way in Europe.

“It’s a very big sign­ing which marks a step up for ev­ery­one at the club,” said coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri, who has guided Juve to the last four of their seven straight league ti­tles.

“I think that the club has done some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary for Ju­ven­tus and all of Ital­ian foot­ball.”

The sign­ing of the 33-year-old is the first time since his Brazil­ian name­sake moved from Barcelona to In­ter Mi­lan in 1997 that an Ital­ian club has signed a con­tender for the ti­tle of world’s best player, and the trans­fer is aimed at tak­ing Juve to the top of the Euro­pean pile.

Ron­aldo has scored 120 Cham­pi­ons League goals, more than any­one else in the his­tory of the com­pe­ti­tion, and won four out of the last five edi­tions with Real.

“The ar­rival of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo at Juve brings us back to those pres­ti­gious 80s/90s when Italy col­lected top play­ers: from Zico to Fal­cao, from Pla­tini to Maradona ... the ar­rival of the five-time Bal­lon d’Or win­ner rep­re­sents a new be­gin­ning,” wrote Il Mes­sag­gero on Wed­nes­day.

Last sea­son, Al­le­gri also led Ju­ven­tus to their fourth con­sec­u­tive Ital­ian Cup, with the dou­ble tak­ing their Scud­etto to­tal to 34.

But they haven’t won a Cham­pi­ons League since 1996 and de­spite reach­ing the fi­nal in 2015 and 2017, lag way be­hind sev­en­time win­ners and fel­low Serie A be­he­moth AC Mi­lan in Europe.

Al­le­gri has mas­ter­minded the sec­ond phase of Juve’s re­birth from the ashes of the no­to­ri­ous “Cal­ciopoli” match-fix­ing scan­dal, build­ing on the do­mes­tic dom­i­nance re-es­tab­lished by for­mer Italy coach An­to­nio Conte be­tween 2011-2014 and mak­ing Juve a force on the con­ti­nent.

Conte fa­mously lamented Juve’s lim­ited spend­ing ca­pac­ity com­pared to the gi­ant in­vest­ments be­ing made in clubs such as Paris Saint-Ger­main and Manch­ester City, liken­ing the chances of an Ital­ian team get­ting to a Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal to eat­ing at a €100 (RM470) restau­rant with €10 in your pocket.

Al­le­gri showed that Juve could go toe-to-toe with the big boys, and af­ter splash­ing out on do­mes­tic stars Gon­zalo Higuain and Mi­ralem Pjanic in pre­vi­ous sea­sons, the club are now flex­ing their mus­cles beyond the Alps.

“There is only one thing that this mon­strous player can not af­ford: to lose the Cham­pi­ons League in his new colours,” wrote Ital­ian daily La Repub­blica on Wed­nes­day.

The pa­per says that “the reper­cus­sions of this op­er­a­tion are un­imag­in­able ... This is some­thing that has never been seen be­fore in Italy, a kind of global in­dus­trial merger” be­tween “the Juve em­pire, sup­ported by a hold­ing com­pany in Exor that gen­er­ated €1.4 bil­lion in prof­its in 2017” and Ron­aldo’s em­pire, “which is an in­cred­i­ble ad­ver­tis­ing and fi­nan­cial ma­chine.”

An­a­lysts Banca IMI claim that the ar­rival of Ron­aldo will strengthen the Ju­ven­tus brand glob­ally.

They claim that “Ju­ven­tus will ben­e­fit from in­creased ticket sales, which we es­ti­mate at an ad­di­tional €5-7 mil­lion per sea­son, and in gen­eral all brand-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties”, such as mer­chan­dis­ing, mar­ket­ing and spon­sor­ship on a scale that is dif­fi­cult to es­ti­mate.

“Since yes­ter­day, foot­ball tele­vi­sion rights are the­o­ret­i­cally worth 30 per­cent more. It’s a pity that they have al­ready been sold (un­til 2021), but there are means of re­cov­er­ing,” wrote La Repub­blica.

“Just think of the next Ital­ian Su­per­cup to be played in the Mid­dle East: be­fore it was just an in­signif­i­cant cup, but with CR7 there it’s an event you buy un­seen,” con­cludes the news­pa­per.

Turin-based daily La Stampa claimed that “ev­ery­one will watch us” now that Ron­aldo is on his way.

“Ron­aldo will of­fer great things to Juve and will in­crease the over­all level of the cham­pi­onship,” said World Cup-win­ning goal­keeper Dino Zoff in the same pa­per.

“It could be good for ev­ery­one. With Ron­aldo, all eyes will be on us and now the whole of Serie A can re­gain the lost ground.”

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