Maurizio Sarri is waiting for the Cristiano Ronaldo “of old” to return for Juventus.
The under-fire head coach admitted Sunday that Ronaldo is yet to reach peak fitness since the return of the Italian season. The attacker missed a penalty in last week’s 0-0 draw with AC Milan in the Coppa Italia semifinals and, in Wednesday’s final, he failed to score again in a shootout defeat to Napoli.
“I spoke to Cristiano again yesterday, alone and for a long time. He mustn’t lose his confidence – I hope that from tomorrow, the fantastic player of old will come back,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia, as reported by Reuters. “It’s just that he’s not physically at his best right now.”
Ronaldo, 35, was in irresistible form before the coronavirus halted football across most of Europe. The Portuguese star scored 19 goals in 17 matches in all competitions and played the full 90 minutes in each of those games.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward spent almost two months in lockdown in his native Portugal during the hiatus. He returned to Juventus training May 19 after quarantining for two weeks upon his return to Italy.
Sarri gave no indication that Ronaldo’s performances could prompt him to move the player into the center of Juve’s attack.
“He has scored 700 goals by starting slightly wide of center, that’s his preference, and that is normal,” Sarri said.