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Is Ronaldo finally showing signs of decline?

AP/Reuters/Turin
Filed on November 12, 2019

Ronaldo has been bothered by a knee injury for nearly a month and is playing through the pain

Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the field and glared at Maurizio Sarri, muttering something undiscernible.

The 34-year-old Portuguese superstar then stormed down the tunnel.

It was the 55th minute of Juventus' match against AC Milan and Ronaldo had just been substituted for the second straight match after another disappointing performance.

His replacement, Paulo Dybala, went on to score the only goal, helping Juventus to a 1-0 victory on Sunday.

Italian media reported that Ronaldo wasn't around to congratulate Dybala or his teammates, having left the stadium shortly before the final whistle.

"I don't know," Sarri said when asked if that was true. "If it's true what you say then it's a problem for him to sort out with his own teammates."

Sarri, who took over as coach at Juventus this season, insisted he was more than fine with Ronaldo's reaction toward him. In fact, he was glad about it.

"If he gets angry at being substituted after all he has won, I'm very happy about that because it means he still has his head fully in the game and he wants to help the team at all costs," Sarri said.

"I like it when a player reacts a bit when he gets taken off. I would be much more worried if it was the opposite."

Sarri said Ronaldo has been bothered by a knee injury for nearly a month and is playing through the pain.

Ronaldo's career has been remarkably injury-free and his longest layoff was in 2008 when a fractured knee cap sidelined him for 94 days, during which he missed 11 games.

An ankle injury cost him nine games in 2009 and he suffered another knee injury during the Euro 2016 final for Portugal against France which put him out of action for 60 days.

He was also troubled by tendinosis around his left knee in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup although he played in all three of Portugal's games but later admitted that he had taken a risk by playing through it.

According to the specialist website Transfermarkt, he has only missed 53 games in his entire career due to injury.

However, former Juventus coach Fabio Capello said Ronaldo is not the same extraordinary player.

"I didn't like it (his reaction), it wasn't nice," Capello said. "He should be a champion also when he comes off the field.

"The truth is Cristiano Ronaldo hasn't dribbled past an opponent in three years. When he played in Spain he always went past players and left them there ... at the moment he can't do the kind of moves that Dybala can."

The five-time Ballon d'Or finished last season - his first in Italy - as Juve's top scorer with 28 goals in all competitions. He has six so far this season, two fewer than he had after the same number of matches last year.

 


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