Cristiano Ronaldo is “coming back stronger than before”, according to Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici, who scoffed at suggestions the veteran forward is “finished” after missing out on the Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo opted not to attend the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris, where Lionel Messi collected the top prize for the sixth time, choosing instead to appear at the Gran Gala del Calcio in Milan, where the Juve star picked up awards for his achievements in Serie A.
Ronaldo won the award for the best player in Serie A, having helped Juve win their eighth straight title by scoring 21 goals in the league last season.
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Paratici was asked whether Ronaldo’s recent form is a sign the 34-year-old’s powers are in decline, following a run of one goal in his past five games for the Bianconeri.
The Juve chief dismissed the suggestion, telling Tuttosport: “Cristiano finished? Don’t make me laugh.
“Ronaldo had a knee problem that didn’t allow him to perform at his best, but now he’s coming back stronger than before.”
On the Ballon d’Or, Paratici added: “For me, Ronaldo also deserved it last season, where he scored  goals in the Champions League, many of which were decisive.
“Ronaldo also deserved the Ballon d’Or this season. He is a competitive animal. We have made a good investment with him, he has improved all of us.
“We must accept his hunger, it is what distinguishes him from others. Will he remain with Juventus? Of course.” Paratici also took the opportunity to lavish praise on Matthijs de Ligt after he won the Kopa trophy, awarded to the best player under the age of 21.
De Ligt joined Juventus in July in a €75 million move from Ajax, and Paratici dubbed the deal one of the club’s best.
“The more I see of him, the more I think he is a monster. He’s in another category,” Paratici said.
“Do you realise what it means to be a starter at a big club at 20 years old? He was immediately thrown into the fray because of the injury to [Giorgio] Chiellini.
He immediately took on great responsibilities, it’s crazy. He’s our best young purchase. He will define an era, I’m sure of it.”