Andrea Pirlo on Cristiano Ronaldo: Normal for There to Be Rumors After UCL Exit

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2021

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo, left, and Cristiano Ronaldo walk on the pitch prior to the Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Crotone, at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)
Marco Alpozzi/Associated Press

Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo said the transfer rumors that have swirled around superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo since the club's Champions League elimination by Porto are "normal."

The Bianconeri were knocked out in the round of 16 on Tuesday on the away goals tiebreaker after the teams each scored four goals across the two matches. Ronaldo didn't score in either of the fixtures.

Jose Felix Diaz of Marca reported Friday that Ronaldo and Real Madrid would both "jump at the chance to reunite" after he left the Spanish club in 2018.

Pirlo addressed the speculation in his press conference Saturday:

"It's normal that he's disappointed, as is the whole squad. And it's normal there be rumors after an elimination.

"He is the most talked about footballer in the world alongside [Lionel] Messi—people are always talking about him. It's worth reminding that he has always done well.

"He has 90 goals in a hundred games for Juventus and has always shown his worth. It can happen that he doesn't score in a certain match, as has happened with others, and this creates rumors."

Ronaldo also made it clear his focus is helping Juve finish the 2020-21 season strong.

"True champions never break! Our focus is already in Cagliari, in the Serie A struggle, in the Italian Cup final and in everything that we can still achieve this season," he wrote Saturday on Instagram.

Pirlo, a former standout midfielder at AC Milan and Juventus, knows better than most the pressure that comes along with being a key player on top European club, and part of that is dealing with an endless stream of rumors, which are always amplified after a UCL elimination or failed domestic title pursuit.

Perhaps the Ronaldo situation will be revisited during the summer transfer window, but in the short term, Juve (52 points) will attempt to embark on an extended winning streak as they try to make up a 10-point deficit in the Serie A table as they trail Inter Milan (62) and AC Milan (56).

The Bianconeri are back in action Sunday when they travel to Sardegna Arena to face Cagliari.