Manchester United’s hopes of securing the Old Trafford return of Cristiano Ronaldo may have been given a boost following the news of Juventus’ sacking of Andrea Pirlo.
Pirlo was dispensed with by the Italian giants, who immediately drafted in Massimiliano Allegri as his replacement for his second stint in charge of the club.
The situation means the dynamic in Turin is a very different one, with Ronaldo now facing the prospect of being coached by a manager who had previously stated Juve should offload him.
During his first tenure at Juve, Allegri is believed to have asked club chairman Andrea Agnelli to sell Ronaldo.
It means relations between Ronaldo and the coach could be somewhat frosty and, with the Portuguese linked with a move away from Turin, the managerial change may be a crucial factor on whether he opts to stay or go.
But while the specific appointment of Allegri may be a bone of contention for Ronaldo, another may be the fact that an appointment was made at all.
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Pirlo had signed a two-year deal with Juventus in August, and won the Coppa Italia, but his failure to challenge for the Scudetto ultimately proved his undoing as Juve finished a disappointing fourth, 13 points adrift of champions Inter.
That led to the decision to dispense with his services, but in doing so, the club backtracked on a definitive statement by Juve vice-chairman Pavel Nedved, who gave clear assurances that neither Pirlo nor Ronaldo would be leaving the club.
Earlier this month, Nedved told Striscia la Notizia, “Pirlo and Ronaldo will stay at Juventus.”
But, less than three weeks later, Pirlo was sacked.
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That scenario may alert Manchester United, who may now see the door opening to an official approach as they look to secure the return of one of the best United players in a generation.
Form certainly is no barrier to a return. Despite Juve’s disappointing Serie A season, the Portuguese remained prolific throughout.
Ronaldo netted 27 league goals for the Bianconeri, including four gals in the club’s final four games during the Serie A run-in.
And with matters in Turin currently in a state of transition, the time could be right for the Old Trafford club to swoop and secure the biggest transfer of the summer to deliver a statement of intent to their other transfer targets.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made no secret of his desire to secure a clutch of big-name signings as he looks to bolster his squad in a bid to challenge cross-town rivals Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.
United have been linked with summer moves for the likes of Harry Kane, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, Pau Torres and Jules Kounde.
And the early-summer acquisition of Ronaldo could move United to the top of those players’ preferred clubs list as they ponder their next moves this off-season.