Cristiano Ronaldo was signed by Juventus in 2018 at the age of 33 to transform them from the dominant team in Italy – they had just won their seventh successive Serie A title – to the finest in Europe, ultimately by delivering a long-elusive Champions League. Further league titles may have followed, but that first European trophy since 1996 has remained out of their reach.
The signings of Matthijs de Ligt, Federico Chiesa, Adrien Rabiot and more have also perhaps since demonstrated that a team that for so long had been built on the axis provided by Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini is gradually being rebuilt. There will also come a time when Ronaldo, too, will be replaced, but his 37 goals during 2019/20 and Italian football’s long-term culture of valuing its finest, ageing players suggests that that time is far from near. “His talents are not natural,” Juve’s manager Andrea Pirlo, also once the finest of players well into his 30s, said of Ronaldo. “We are lucky that he plays at Juventus.”