Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Manchester United undoubtedly leaves Juventus a weaker proposition on the field but his departure is unlikely to cause too many tears in Turin as an expensive experiment comes to an early end.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri almost shrugged his shoulders on Friday when he told the world the five-time Ballon d’Or winner wanted to leave after three seasons in Italy, simply saying that “life goes on” with the air of someone who had made his peace with the separation.
It came in great contrast to the fanfare that greeted the most expensive transfer in the history of Italian football in the summer of 2018, the shock signing of one of the game’s greatest ever players pitched as the missing link between domestic dominance and European glory.
Juve are Italy’s biggest-supported club, but although they have won by far the most Serie A titles they lag behind the Milan giants in continental success.
Last crowned European champions in 1996, The ‘Old Lady’ reached Champions League finals in 2015 and 2017, and once Ronaldo arrived hopes in Turin were that they could go one better with the competition’s all-time highest scorer in their attack.
However they have failed to get any further than the quarter-finals since Ronaldo arrived and in the past two seasons were dumped out by Lyon and Porto in the last 16.
In his time there Juve also somewhat lost their way domestically, last season finishing 13 points behind league winners Inter Milan under novice coach Andrea Pirlo and only qualifying for the Champions League on the final day of the campaign because Napoli failed to beat Verona at home.
Ronaldo was left out of the 4-1 win at Bologna which enabled Juve to jump into fourth place and despite official denials of a definitive breakdown between club and player he has been subject to heavy speculation all summer.
He won two Serie A titles and one Italian Cup and reached 100 Juve goals quicker than any other player in the club’s history — topping the league’s scoring charts last season — but he is unlikely to remain in the affections of Juve fans like he has at Real Madrid and United, where he had his greatest successes.
Over the past two seasons at Inter Romelu Lukaku became a huge fan favourite not just for his play but for the way he integrated in Italy, quickly learning the language and settling into life in Milan.
By contrast Ronaldo never truly connected with Juve supporters, rarely speaking to media, struggling to learn Italian and failing in Juve’s mission to win the Champions League.
For Juve there is also the convenience of removing Ronaldo’s reported net salary of 31 million euros ($36.6 million) from the books as the club, like many others, deals with the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday Juve’s board of directors approved a capital increase of 400 million euros to steady the club’s finances against the impact of Covid-19.
In February Juventus said they had made losses of 113.7 million euros in the second half of 2020, more than double the loss recorded in the same period of the previous year.
Revenues dropped by 20 percent in that period with Juve blaming the reduction on the pandemic.
And in June they estimated the running cost of Covid to the club at 320 million euros.
Juve’s reported top targets to replace Ronaldo — Moise Kean and Mauro Icardi — are undoubtedly downgrades but are capable forwards with experience in Italy who are in no danger of feeling almost too big for the club, even considering the troublesome way Icardi left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain in 2019.
Allegri meanwhile made it clear who he thinks should lead his attack, handing the captain’s armband to Paulo Dybala for Juve’s opening round 2-2 draw at Udinese as he left Ronaldo on the bench.