World Football

Happy Ronaldo still has more years at Juventus, says Pepe

Cristiano Ronaldo is happy at Juventus and looks primed to stay at the club for multiple years, according to his former Real Madrid and Portugal team-mate Pepe.

The forward has 25 goals in 27 Serie A matches this season, topping the league’s scoring charts, four clear of nearest rival Romelu Lukaku.

Ronaldo has been prolific since signing for Juve from Real Madrid in 2018 and continues to be so at the age of 36, now three goals away from reaching 100 for the Italian club in all competitions.

However, his future was thrown into the spotlight after Juventus once again failed to reach the latter stages of the Champions League this season, with Pepe and Porto knocking them out in the last 16.

Domestically, Inter look poised to end Juve’s run of nine straight Scudetto successes and Ronaldo has been linked with a move away amid speculation over Juve’s financial situation and direction of their project.

But Pepe thinks Ronaldo’s accomplishments are being underestimated and sees him remaining at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

Pepe was asked if Ronaldo would contemplate a return to playing in Portugal, where he started his career with Sporting CP.

He told Novo: “Honestly, given how I know him, I don’t know if he would tolerate the way many people talk about football in Portugal.

“I think he is happy in Turin. He is the leading goalscorer in Serie A. Those who criticise him don’t know how difficult it is to score more than 30 goals every year.

“What Cristiano can do is incredible. And I hope he will stay there for more years, giving joy to football lovers and representing Portugal very well, as he has always done.”

Ronaldo – defended by head coach Andrea Pirlo last week for throwing his shirt after failing to score in a win over Genoa – is under contract with Juve until June 2022, while at international level he has Euro 2020 and the World Cup coming up for his country before the end of next year.

Juventus are away to Atalanta on Sunday, a team they have beaten only once in their last six meetings across all competitions.

However, Ronaldo will be buoyed that Juve have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven away games against Atalanta in Serie A.

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