Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri has vowed to help Cristiano Ronaldo win a sixth Ballon d’Or, claiming it was “annoying” that Lionel Messi is one ahead of the Portuguese forward in the awards stakes.
Speaking after Juve’s 4-0 Coppa Italia win against Udinese on Wednesday, for which Ronaldo was rested, Sarri said: "I would like to help Cristiano win the sixth Ballon d'Or…
"It's really annoying thinking that someone won more [Ballons d'Or] than him. I think about him and I think helping him, it is my goal and the goal of the team. It is right for him," Sarri added, according to Goal.
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Ronaldo, 34, sat out what was a comfortable evening for the Bianconeri in Turin as they eased past Udinese thanks to a double from Argentine ace Paulo Dybala in between goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Douglas Costa, sending them into the quarterfinals.
The performance from Dybala in particular highlighted the attacking riches Sarri has at his disposal, and the Juve boss even tipped the 26-year-old forward for world football’s top individual prize in future.
“Dybala is going to be one of the [Ballon d’Or] contenders in the next years," Sarri said.
“Dybala is going to leave a mark in world and European football in the next years. He has got the right age to leave a mark and he's still got many years of his career. He is really confident in this moment after a few difficulties in the past."
Ronaldo has netted four goals in two games so far this season, but was the subject of speculation on Wednesday when he was named in UEFA’s 2019 Team of the Year.
Fans questioned the unorthodox 4-2-4 formation of the team, with claims UEFA had manipulated it specifically to accommodate the Portuguese frontman alongside Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane upfront.
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Reports in the UK and France on Thursday quoted a source as saying that the organization had “rigged” the fan vote to make room for Ronaldo at the expense of Chelsea and France midfield man N’Golo Kante.
UEFA claims the formation change reflected the fan vote and the success of the 11 players named in the team.