AFP /Turin, Italy
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to training with Juventus in Turin yesterday after an absence of over two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 35-year-old arrived at the Juventus Training Centre in a Jeep with tinted windows around 09:20 (0720 GMT), leaving three hours later with a smile and thumbs up for waiting photographers.
Ronaldo underwent medical and physical tests before joining up with his teammates for the first time in 72 days for individual training, according to media reports.
Coach Maurizio Sarri has been conducting training in small groups since Monday, pending the final health protocol to be agreed with the Italian government. Juventus players got back to individual training on May 4, the day Ronaldo returned to Italy after spending lockdown in his native Portugal. For the past two weeks, he has been in quarantine in his villa in Turin.
Ronaldo played in Juventus’ last Serie A game before the season was suspended, a 2-0 win over Inter Milan behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium on March 8. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the first Juventus foreign player, among those who left Italy during the lockdown, to return to the team’s Continassa training centre.
Italy has been one of the countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with more than 32,000 deaths. League leaders Juventus are leading Lazio by one point as they target a ninth consecutive ‘Scudetto’.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced on Monday that all its competitions, including Serie A, will remain suspended until June 14.
Serie A had hoped to return on June 13 but the FIGC has pushed back the date in line with a government decree that all sports competitions be suspended until next month. The FIGC said the choice was made “pending any further... decision by the authorities”, suggesting the possibility of a restart on June 13 might still exist.
But Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday he needed “more guarantees” before the green light could finally be given for football to resume.
A meeting is planned in the near future between Conte and Italian football bosses.The government’s technical and scientific committee will decide in the coming days if it accepts the new health protocols proposed for a return to group training and competition.
PSG chief al-Khelaifi all praise for Ronaldo
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi has explained his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo.
In an interview no doubt destined to spark a fresh round of transfer rumours, the PSG chief hailed the Juventus forward’s “extraordinary strength of character”.
Ronaldo is about to return to training, having arrived back in Turin from Portugal as the Serie A season looks to get back underway.
“Year after year, he shows a unique determination, an extraordinary strength of character,” al-Khelaifi told France Football.
“He remains motivated by this desire to improve every day and he always pushes his limits.
“I admire this relentless will; he is a great example for all athletes of the future.”
The French capital has been suggested as a possible destination for Ronaldo in the past, with PSG keen to acquire some of football’s biggest names. Perhaps their most significant signing of their modern era was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 156 goals in 180 games for the club after joining from AC Milan in 2012.
“Thinking back to all the players who have joined us since the beginning of our ambition with PSG, I could still highlight the time of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his character, his leadership, his charisma and his ability to get things done,” al-Khelaifi noted.
“He was always reliable, and when the situation demanded something from him, he knew how to stand up to the challenges of the moment.” Monday marks seven years to the day since David Beckham played the final game of his professional career, with a memorable farewell for PSG at the Parc des Princes. The England legend spent half a season in Ligue 1 at the tail-end of his career, returning for a final spell in Europe after his time at LA Galaxy. According to the president, Beckham played a key role in transforming PSG into the superclub they are today.
“I must also quote David Beckham. Although he was only at PSG for a short time, he had a transformative effect on our club.
“His investment in training, his concern for applying every detail at every moment, his determination to succeed, his taste for teamwork and his natural aura were extremely precious assets.” (Goal.com)
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