Juventus stalwart Leonardo Bonucci has reiterated his stance that Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence at the club affected some players negatively.
Ronaldo spent three years in Turin following his move from Real Madrid in 2018, during which time the Portuguese superstar bagged 101 goals in 134 games, claimed last season’s Capocannoniere for top scorer in the Italian top flight and won two Serie A Footballer of the Year awards.
However, in a recent interview with The Athletic, former team-mate Bonucci revealed Ronaldo’s mere presence “subconsciously” demotivated some players as they believed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner would carry them through games, rather than upping their own for the good of the team.
“We began to fall a little short in our daily work, the humility, the sacrifice, the desire to be there for your team-mate day after day,” Bonucci commented last month about Ronaldo’s impact at the club. However, his words can perhaps be seen as more of a dig on his Juventus team-mates rather than Ronaldo himself.
The 36-year-old has since moved to Manchester United and despite a blistering start to his Old Trafford reunion, in which he netted five goals in his opening five games, the club have not won in the Premier League in three matches (losing twice) and have been eliminated from the League Cup.
Bonucci has now doubled down on his claim that Ronaldo adversely affected the team harmony at Juventus, telling reporters: “Ronaldo made a choice that we respected. Last year the team played for him, now the group must rediscover that Juve spirit that was there before his arrival.”
The Italian’s latest comments will do little to temper the recent debate surrounding Ronaldo’s overall influence at Man Utd, with the honeymoon period of his return now seemingly over. The Portuguese was once again underwhelming at the weekend as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side suffered a 4-2 reversal to Leicester City.
Man Utd legend Gary Neville recently commented on The Overlap that Ronaldo’s lack of work rate, in terms of closing players down, pressurising opposition defenders and putting in the hard yards defensively, means Solskjaer will not be able to play with a pressing system.
“With it comes big positives, but with it also comes problems,” he said. “Ronaldo had to be managed, shall we say.
“In the 2008 Barcelona semi-final away from home, Ronaldo was shoved up front on his own, and Wayne Rooney and Park Ji-sung were shoved wide, and Carlos Tevez was brought back to [mark] Busquets. You couldn’t carry him in the big games because he generally doesn’t work hard enough.
“So he’s playing up front now – you’re never going to press from the front. So the idea that Manchester United can become a pressing team with Cristiano up front is never going to happen. He wasn’t pressing 10-15 years ago.”