Maurizio Sarri has a lot of work to do as Juventus boss.
The former Chelsea manager needs to battle critics of his style and background, all while tending to the egos of one of the biggest teams in the world.
And one of those egos is possibly the largest on record.
That’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not take part in Juve’s 4-0 cup win over Udinese on Wednesday but still got plenty of airtime in Sarri’s post-match presser.
Sarri went to great lengths to describe the details of Ronaldo’s sinus infection, which comes with Ronaldo in red-hot form. The Portuguese 34-year-old has nine goals in his last six games.
The manager went on to take a shot at Lionel Messi on his player’s behalf, seemingly at random. From Football-Italia:
“I would like to help Ronaldo win a sixth Ballon d’Or, as seeing someone out there with one more than him is a little annoying… In future, Dybala can challenge for the same objective, as he can make his mark on world football for years to come.”
Without even getting into the discussion of whether there’s a single season that Messi won the Ballon d’Or over Ronaldo and didn’t deserve it (and vice versa) well… what now?
What’s Sarri doing? Assuming no one planted this bug in his ear, it’s an odd one. Your team just waxed a Serie A opponent, and Paulo Dybala got to shine without sharing the spotlight with CR7 for once. Two goals and one assist and he gets to hear about how one day he might be on his sick teammate’s level? Nah.
Look, Ronaldo is a wonderful player, and generational talent and one of the best to ever put on boots. At some point, his insufferable ego cloys the dish. Yes, it’s on brand, but there are a lot better roads to trod.
Then again, it’s probably of extreme import for Sarri to stay on his man’s good side.
Juve leads Inter in the scudetto race by two points after 19 match days.