Moise Kean Says He Wants to Reach Level of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

Juventus' Italian forward Moise Kean acknowledges the public at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Empoli on March 30, 2019 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Juventus starlet Moise Kean spoke to reporters after scoring the winner against Empoli on Saturday, saying he has to continue working hard and that he hopes to reach the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi one day.

The 19-year-old came off the bench to score the only goal in the win, becoming the youngest player to tally eight Serie A goals since Mario Balotelli. Manager Massimiliano Allegri has asked everyone to calm the hype surrounding the youngster, saying he's no Ronaldo or Messi, and Kean told Sky Italia (h/t Football Italia) he agrees―though he hopes to get there one day:

"I'm very happy at another record. As I said, I'm always ready to beat some more records.

"Hard work is the only thing that can help me prove what I can do every single weekend.

"[...] If the coach says that, then it's true. Of course I am not Cristiano or Messi. I hope to one day reach their level, if I work hard enough."

Juventus' Italian forward Moise Kean shoots to open the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Empoli on March 30, 2019 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTO

Allegri also faced reporters, saying he had no regrets about his decision to leave Kean out of his starting XI despite his scorching form: "No, because scoring two goals for Italy in as many games, having all that attention, it uses up a lot of energy both physically and mentally. He returned from international duty and looked like he barely knew where he was."

The Bianconeri came out flat on Saturday and were second-best for large stretches of the match, but they received a boost of energy from substitutes Leonardo Spinazzola and Kean. The latter bagged the winner just minutes after coming on:

It was Kean's sixth goal in his last eight appearances, including two in two for Italy during the international break. The winner on Saturday capped off quite the week for the teenager:

B/R Football @brfootball

—23 March: Scores on competitive international debut —26 March: Scores on second international start —30 March: Scores winner for Juventus vs. Empoli Moise Kean is having himself a WEEK. https://t.co/r1m0oyzc0y

The Juventus academy product has spent the bulk of the season stuck behind Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic, biding his time and learning from the two veteran forwards in training.

He got his first start in the Coppa Italia against Bologna, scoring in the win, and bagged a brace in his first Serie A start for the Old Lady shortly after. He has carried on his incredible form since, scoring in every match in which he has played more than 20 minutes.

In Serie A, his efficiency has been his standout trait:

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

3 - Moise #Kean has scored 3 goals in the Serie A 2018/19 with the 3 shots he fired so far. Inspiration. #JuveEmpoli

Kean's fine club form led to a first start for Italy during the international break, where he became the nation's youngest scorer in over a century against Finland.

With Ronaldo sidelined because of injury and Juventus facing a busy part of their schedule, the rising star is likely to see plenty of action in the coming weeks. The Bianconeri will play a total of seven matches in April, including the crucial UEFA Champions League tie against Ajax.

Ronaldo, Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala will receive plenty of rest with an eye on those two contests, opening the door for Kean to continue his momentum. His current form could even lead to some opportunities against the Dutch side, as no one in the iconic black and white kit is hotter in front of goal right now.