ITALY: Massimiliano Allegri oversaw his final game as Juventus coach on Sunday, after guiding the team to an eighth consecutive Serie A title but paying the price for yet another Champions League failure despite the sensational signing of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo was left out alongside a host of other starters as the Allegri era ended with the whimper of a 2-0 defeat at Sampdoria, having played 31 of 38 matches and closing the season as the team’s top scorer with 21 league goals.
But helping the team to another Serie A title was not why the 34-year-old was signed last summer.
Ronaldo had spent nine glittering seasons at Real Madrid, lifting a fourth Champions League trophy in five seasons before moving to Italy.
His arrival in Turin on a 100-million-euro ($115 million) deal, plus a reported 30 million euros a year, was hailed as “the deal of the century” by the Italian press.
But after a season in which they were expected to sweep all before them, Juventus have won less than the previous season, with their four-year reign as Coppa Italia holders ended in a 3-0 quarter-final defeat by Atalanta.
Ronaldo single-handedly lifted Juventus into the Champions League quarter-finals with a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid.
But his hopes of a fourth straight European triumph were ended when they crashed out to daring Dutch Ajax in the last eight.
Amid criticism of Allegri’s tactics, Ronaldo, who has scored 124 goals in 160 Champions League appearances, reportedly said: “I don’t work miracles”.
“Cristiano showed us he could always score in the games that counted. But then you have to have a strong team behind him,” said veteran defender Andrea Barzagli.
Despite the financial fallout of failing to advance in the Champions League, Ronaldo’s signing has been a money-spinning one for Juventus.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the most followed sports star on social media with a global reach of over 340 million followers.
More fans ultimately mean more money, and suddenly Ronaldo’s transfer fee does not look so extortionate.
The club’s value on the Milan stock exchange has rocketed by 133 percent since his arrival last July.
Shares had been trading around 0.6 euro in mid-May, jumping to 1.8 euro during the session on September 20, before dipping slightly following rape allegations against Ronaldo in the United States dating back to 2009 which he vehemently denies.
Shares jumped by 30 percent after his hat-trick catapulted the Italian football club into the quarterfinals of the Champions League in March.
Next season there will be a new coach on the bench with reports that Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, former coach of Napoli, Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi are among the candidates.
On the pitch Welsh international midfielder Aaron Ramsey arrives in Turin from Arsenal.