Milan (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo will start on the bench for Juventus’ opening fixture of the new season at Udinese on Sunday amid rumours of a possible exit from the Serie A club.
Italian media reported that five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo is not injured, while Sky Sport Italia claim that Ronaldo asked to not be picked in the starting line-up as he still hopes to leave the 36-time Italian champions before the end of the month.
Juventus published the formation returning Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri has chosen for the match in Udine, with Alvaro Morata leading the line in a front three wich also includes Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado.
Italy forward Federico Chiesa is a substitute while midfielder Manuel Locatelli, also one of the Azzurri’s Euro 2020 heroes, will begin his Juve career on the bench after moving from Sassuolo on Wednesday.
Top scorer in Serie A last season with 29 goals, Ronaldo was absent for Juve’s final warm-up against the club’s youngsters on Thursday.
However, on Friday Allegri said the 36-year-old wanted to stay despite talk he was trying to leave Juve, adding that he was ready to play in what will be his fourth and final season of his contract.
Allegri’s decision comes after a summer in which media around Europe have said that Ronaldo was looking for a way out of Juve, a club he joined in 2018 to huge fanfare.
On Tuesday Ronaldo rubbished reports of a move to former club Real Madrid, calling them “disrespectful” and saying that stories of his departure were written with “nobody ever being concerned about trying to find out the actual truth”.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti had confirmed earlier the same day that the Spanish giants were not interested in the return of the man who fired the club to four Champions League triumphs.
Also on Tuesday Italian daily Corriere dello Sport said that agent Jorge Mendes had offered the Portugal captain to Manchester City.
Other outlets said that Paris Saint-Germain were interested in Ronaldo but stepped back once they pulled off the signing of the close season, bringing free agent Lionel Messi to the French capital.