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'Ronaldo can't win Ballon d'Or? Strange'

Juve director backs superstar, who is reportedly out of running for podium finish

Leaving Cristiano Ronaldo out of the Ballon d'Or podium would be "madness", insisted Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici.

With France's Kylian Mbappe and Raphael Varane, and Croatia's Luka Modric having stellar seasons - including superb performances at the World Cup - there had been reports that Ronaldo and his nemesis Lionel Messi are out of the running for the Ballon d'Or.


If that turns out to be so on Dec 3, when the top three will be announced in Paris, it would mark the end of a 10-year dominance of the two superstars.

Paratici maintains that Ronaldo, who joined the Italian giants from Real Madrid for 100 million euros (S$156m) in the summer, still deserves his place in the pantheon.

"Only a fool can doubt his qualities," said Paratici. "He is the best player in the world and the most important in the history of football.

"At this moment, I see him very serene, as he has always been here at Juve. The fact that he cannot win the Ballon d'Or seems very strange, since he scored 15 goals in one Champions League campaign (last season)," he said.

Ronaldo - a five-time Ballon d'Or winner - spent much of last month vehemently denying allegations by former model Kathryn Mayorga that he raped her in Las Vegas in 2009.

He was dropped by Portugal for the Nations League internationals, with the European champions becoming the first team to book their passage to the semi-finals.

However, that does not seem to have affected his form.

"Happy to have helped the team on another important win," the 33-year-old wrote on social media after scoring his 10th goal this season for the Italian giants in Saturday's 2-0 win over Spal.

In the process, Juventus opened up a record eight-point lead at the top of Serie A after 13 games.

The Portuguese superstar is also proving to be key in the team's race towards an eighth straight Serie A title, with nine goals and five assists of their 28 goals this season.

No Italian team have ever achieved 37 points from the first 13 games, with Ronaldo becoming the fastest forward in the club's history to score 10 goals in all competitions.

Ronaldo's Colombian teammate Juan Cuadrado warned that the Portuguese's focus remains on the pitch, as he bids to add to his five Champions League titles with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

"Cristiano Ronaldo's main quality is his professionalism," said Cuadrado. "He's hungry for victory and he's come to the right place. We all think the same way he does."

Juventus won the elite European title in 1985 and 1996, but have finished runners-up seven times.

Next up is a Group H return leg clash against Valencia, who beat Rayo Vallecano 3-0 in La Liga at the weekend, but are mid-table in Spain.

Juventus are top of Group H with nine points after four games, with Manchester United two points behind and the Spanish side on five.


Ronaldo's Champions League debut for Juventus in September was marred when he was controversially sent off in tears after half an hour for a small push on Valencia defender Jeison Murillo in Spain.

The red card was his first in 154 Champions League appearances, but Juventus still went on to beat Valencia 2-0.

Ronaldo scored his first Champions League goal for Juventus and the 121st of his career against United in Turin this month, but his former club won 2-1 to delay the Italian side's passage to the last 16. - AFP