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.

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 [13] 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 €75million 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."

Matthijs de Ligt set his sights on team success with Juventus after claiming a prestigious individual prize at the Ballon d'Or ceremony on Monday.

The Netherlands international was named the 2019 winner of the Kopa Trophy, given annually to the best player in the world aged under 21.

De Ligt described the award as an "honour" and hoped it would not be his last taste of silverware for the season.

Juve, the club he joined from Ajax in July, have long harboured ambitions to win the Champions League and are locked in a Serie A title race with Antonio Conte's Inter.

"Inter will be a difficult challenge because they are a great team with great players," De Ligt told reporters in Paris.

"But the season is long and for us it is all about winning.

"In the league or in the cup? I don't make distinctions, it's all important. We want to win everything.

"At Juve there are world-class defenders who will help me grow and become even stronger."

De Ligt was part of the Juve side that drew 2-2 at home to Sassuolo over the weekend, which allowed Inter to take a one-point lead at the top.

The Bianconeri will look to bounce back away to in-form Lazio on Saturday.

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has been named as the winner of the 2019 Kopa Trophy at this year's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Awarded to the best player in the world under the age of 21, De Ligt inherits the award from France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

De Ligt has enjoyed a sensational 2019, guiding Ajax to the Eredivise title and the semi-final of the Champions League, where they ultimately suffered a last-gasp defeat to Tottenham.

His stunning form for the Dutch side led to a reported €75million move to Juventus in July, with the Serie A champions seeing off competition from a number of European rivals for his signature.

The 20-year-old has made 15 appearances across all competitions for Maurizio Sarri's side this season, scoring one goal.

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has been named as the winner of the 2019 Kopa Trophy at this year's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Awarded to the best player in the world under the age of 21, De Ligt inherits the award from France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

De Ligt has enjoyed a sensational 2019, guiding Ajax to the Eredivise title and the semi-final of the Champions League, where they ultimately suffered a last-gasp defeat to Tottenham.

His stunning form for the Dutch side led to a reported €75million move to Juventus in July, with the Serie A champions seeing off competition from a number of European rivals for his signature.

The 20-year-old has made 15 appearances across all competitions for Maurizio Sarri's side this season, scoring one goal.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has been voted 18th in the final list for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, a fall of 15 places from last year.

Griezmann finished behind only Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo 12 months ago after winning the World Cup with France and impressing for Atletico Madrid at club level.

However, an underwhelming end to his Atletico career and a tough start to life at Barcelona - who he joined in a €120million deal in July - has seen him drop down the list.

It marks the second time the 28-year-old has slipped from third to 18th, having done likewise in 2017.

Griezmann's Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen finished 24th and Frenkie de Jong, who spent the first half of the year with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, was voted 11th in the standings.

Three Liverpool players missed out on the top 10, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in 26th, 19th and 17th, respectively.

Fellow Premier League side Manchester City were also heavily represented in the 30-11 rankings, as were Dutch champions Ajax following their run to the final four of last season's Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the frontrunners to win the most prestigious individual accolade in world football during Monday's ceremony.

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Maurizio Sarri hopes Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo wins his sixth Ballon d'Or, and he also tipped team-mate Paulo Dybala to be recognised as the world's best player in the future.

Ronaldo is up against fellow five-time winner Lionel Messi and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk in the running for this year's gong, while Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is in contention to win the Kopa Trophy awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

After watching Ronaldo overcoming a persistent knee injury to play a full 90 minutes in Juve's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Sarri said he was impressed with the 34-year-old's recovery.

"Cristiano did well in the last game, even with some resistance," Sarri told reporters. "Now he just has to grow in terms of brilliance.

"I hope that Cristiano wins the Ballon d'Or, de Ligt the Kopa Trophy and that Dybala will one day be a future Ballon d’Or contender."

Serie A leaders Juventus play 14th-placed Sassuolo on Sunday, and Sarri said his deliberation over selecting two from Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala to play in attack is a welcome problem.

But the former Napoli and Chelsea coach warned his players against complacency as they go in search of a fifth consecutive Serie A victory, having beaten Atalanta 3-1 prior to the win over Atletico.

"Tomorrow's game is very dangerous," Sarri said of the Sassuolo clash. "We come into this fixture after two games that took away a lot of our mental energy.

"In addition, Sassuolo is a team that has done well, even on the road, and they have a young and strong coach who I respect a lot.

"Do I get a headache choosing who to play in attack? If anything, the opposition gets the headache.

"Emre Can may be an option for tomorrow. Alex Sandro took part in the full training session with the team yesterday. We need to see if he can play 90 minutes. 

"[Federico] Bernardeschi is doing well, he is a useful player to the team, who has great technical qualities, so we ask him to give more."

Matthijs de Ligt is a doubt for Juventus' clash with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League after suffering a dislocated shoulder in Saturday's 3-1 win over Atalanta.

Team-mate Douglas Costa will be sidelined for the Atletico game because of a thigh strain, Juventus indicated.

Victory in Bergamo was the Bianconeri's fifth in a row in all competitions and they are top of Serie A, one point clear of Inter, but the loss of De Ligt on top of Costa's absence would be a blow to head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Centre-back De Ligt has started 10 of 13 domestic league games this season, with Giorgio Chiellini's knee injury thrusting the €75million signing from Ajax into the spotlight.

Sarri will also monitor the fitness of forward Federico Bernardeschi, who was replaced after 26 minutes against Atalanta having suffered a bruised chest.

A statement on the official Juventus website said: "Following diagnostic tests carried out this morning ... it emerged that Matthjis de Ligt suffered a dislocated right shoulder in yesterday's match and has now began the appropriate therapies and recovery.

"Therapy and recovery also for Federico Bernardeschi, who suffered a bruise to the right hemithorax.

"Douglas Costa suffered a low-grade lesion of the semitendinosus muscle of the right thigh and has started rehabilitation treatment."

Juventus said that in winger Costa's case, it would take around 15 days for him to fully recover.

Matthijs de Ligt feels a degree of regret about choosing Juventus over Barcelona, according to the Catalan club's director of youth football Patrick Kluivert.

Juve beat out strong competition to sign Netherlands international De Ligt from Ajax in June.

The defender had been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barca but opted to sign a five-year deal in Turin after Ajax accepted an offer worth an initial €75million.

De Ligt was thrust into the starting XI after Giorgio Chiellini suffered a serious knee injury and has faced criticism for conceding two penalties – both for handball – in his nine Serie A appearances.

Former Netherlands striker Kluivert believes the 20-year-old may now be second-guessing his transfer choice.

"I would not say I tried to convince him, I could only tell him very good things about both Barcelona the city, as well as the club," Kluivert told Mundo Deportivo when asked about talks he held with De Ligt.

"But in the end it is the player and his agent who decide. Of course De Ligt is a great defender, but in the end he made a choice. I think he is a little sorry, but it is what it is.

"In life you make choices and sometimes you do it well and sometimes badly. You have to learn from your decisions."

Frenkie de Jong, De Ligt's former Ajax team-mate, did make the move to Barca in the close season and has flourished, with Kluivert praising the "very high quality" midfielder.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman coaches both players at international level and has called the Barca job a "possibility" beyond Euro 2020, after which a clause in his contract would allow him to leave for Camp Nou.

When asked whether Koeman could return to the club as head coach, Kluivert told SPORT: "I don't know, maybe, but I insist, out of respect for Valverde, I don't want to talk about other coaches when there's one in a job at this club."

He added: "I know Ronald very well. Out of respect for Valverde, I don't want to position myself.

"[Koeman] is a very good coach, he's doing really well with the Dutch national team."

Romelu Lukaku's two-goal showing for Inter at Bologna has earned him a place in the FUT Team of the Week, though Timo Werner's inclusion is arguably the most deserved of this week's selection.

Werner lit up the Bundesliga at the weekend with a hat-trick and a treble of assists in RB Leipzig's 8-0 demolition of Mainz, having a hand in all but two of Leipzig's goals in a remarkable win.

The Germany international became only the second player to be involved in six goals in a single Bundesliga match since detailed Opta data collection began in 2004-05 – the first being Claudio Pizarro with four goals and two assists in May 2013.

He is partnered in attack by Lukaku after his goals secured 2-1 comeback win on the road, while a forward-thinking back three includes Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt and Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker.

Below, we examine the entire squad that is set to be up for grabs online.

FUT Team of the Week

GK: Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach) – 86

RB: Kyle Walker (Manchester City) – 86

CB: Matthijs de Ligt (Piemonte Calcio/Juventus) – 86

LB: Alex Grimaldo (Benfica) – 85

LM: Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 84

CAM: Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao) – 84

CM: Luis Alberto (Lazio) – 86

LM: Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund) – 84

CAM: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) – 86

ST: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) – 85

ST: Romelu Lukaku (Inter) – 86

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Walter Benitez (Nice) – 83

CB: Chris Smalling (Roma) – 83

LB: Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors/Buenos Aires) – 82

RM: Fabian Orellana (Eibar) – 82

CAM: Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders) – 82

ST: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – 84

ST: Joao Pedro (Cagliari) – 81

RESERVES

CB: Harry Ashcroft (Finn Harps) – 69

ST: Camillo Ciano (Frosinone) – 80

CM: John Lundstram (Sheffield United) – 76

ST: Mohamed Buya Turay (Djurgardens) – 77

ST: Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Tranmere Rovers) – 71

Matthijs de Ligt will miss Juventus' Champions League clash with Lokomotiv Moscow due to an ankle injury.

After scoring the winner in the derby against Torino in Serie A on Saturday, centre-back De Ligt was diagnosed with "a slightly sprained left ankle".

The 20-year-old was consequently left out of a Juve team that will clinch qualification from Group D with a victory over Lokomotiv in Moscow.

Maurizio Sarri will hope to have De Ligt available to face AC Milan at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Adrien Rabiot was included in the 20-man group for the trip to Russia after sitting out the 1-0 victory over Torino because of a suspension.

Matthijs de Ligt said it was special to open his Juventus account with a Derby della Mole winner against Torino that sent the champions back to the top of the Serie A table.

De Ligt has been criticised for some erratic displays since joining from Ajax but the Netherlands centre-back came up with a crucial second-half goal in a 1-0 victory in Saturday's clash.

He turned home from close range after substitute Gonzalo Higuain knocked a corner into his path to help Juve reclaim top spot from Inter, who won 2-1 at Bologna earlier in the day.

"I am really happy, of course," De Ligt said to DAZN.

"It was a really important game, as Inter won also. We won 1-0 and it was my goal, so [it was] really special."

De Ligt was arguably fortunate not to concede a penalty for handball in the first half, but the defender feels referee Daniele Doveri made the right decision not to point to the spot.

"I am just standing like this and the ball hit me," he said. 

"I knew immediately it was not a penalty, because the rules are if my arms are down here, it's not a penalty."

De Ligt is confident he is starting to grow into his surroundings after finding the transition a little challenging following his move from Ajax for an initial fee of €75million.

"Obviously, when you come to a new club, it's always going to be hard," the 20-year-old added.

"It's going well, the guys made me feel welcome and I think I'm improving every game.

"I hope that I showed tonight what I can bring to the team.

"My team-mates are really nice, Higuain gave me an amazing assist and I'm really happy."

Matthijs de Ligt scored his first Juventus goal as the Serie A champions earned a 1-0 win at rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole.

The start of De Ligt's Juve career has not been easy but the Netherlands centre-back had a moment to remember in the 70th minute of a bad-tempered clash on Saturday.

Juve had been unable to break the deadlock but when Gonzalo Higuain knocked a corner into his path, De Ligt showed a striker's instinct to break Salvatore Sirigu's resistance.

Victory moved Juve back to the top of the Serie A table above Inter, with the Bianconeri now having won on 10 of their past 11 league visits to Torino.

With Walter Mazzarri seeking his first win over Juventus since 2011, handball appeals were rejected in both penalty areas during a stodgy opening.

Juve took until the 32nd minute to create a clear chance, Paulo Dybala dancing into the box but placing his shot too close to Sirigu, the Torino goalkeeper then making a comfortable save to keep out Cristiano Ronaldo's snapshot.

The pressure in Torino's box grew in the minutes before half-time, Sirigu showing strong reactions when Matthijs de Ligt diverted Ronaldo's cross-shot at goal.

Sirigu made another smart stop to keep out Ronaldo in the 56th minute, diving low to his right, before Maurizio Sarri replaced Dybala with Higuain.

The substitute's stunning volley was tipped on to the crossbar in sensational fashion by Sirigu, but the goalkeeper was beaten from the resulting corner as De Ligt turned home from close range.

Wojciech Szczesny prevented Cristian Ansaldi giving the hosts a rapid response as Juve closed out yet another derby victory to pile more pain on Torino, who had an injury-time equaliser from Bremer rightly ruled out for offside.

What does it mean? Juventus back on top

Romelu Lukaku's late double at Bologna earlier in the day sent Antonio Conte's Inter top of the table but Juve regained the summit with their hard-fought victory.

Mazzarri's days in charge of Torino may be numbered as his side have only taken two points from their past six league games, leaving them 13th in the table.

Sirigu heroics in vain

Torino's goalkeeper produced a wonderful performance between the posts, but it was not enough to keep a clean sheet against the attacking might of the champions. Sirigu's save to keep out Higuain's terrific strike was superb, but he was beaten moments later.

Dybala unable to unlock the door

Argentina attacker Dybala went into the derby in good form, with three goals in his past three games for Juve, but he was far from his best and only managed to get one of his three shots on target. It was no surprise to see him make way in Sarri's first change.

What's next?

Juve go to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday before hosting AC Milan in the league four days later. Torino will seek their first win since September when they head to struggling Brescia on Saturday.

Ronald Koeman has defended Matthijs de Ligt but says the Netherlands centre-back must alter his game at Juventus.

The former Ajax captain has made a stuttering start to the 2019-20 season for both club and country after joining the Serie A champions.

De Ligt was at fault as Northern Ireland opened the scoring against Netherlands on Thursday, Josh Magennis beating him in the air.

It was the latest in a series of errors the 20-year-old defender has made this term, but Koeman backed De Ligt to come good.

"It is clear that he has to make a change in the way he plays at his club," Koeman told reporters.

"That can sometimes be at the expense of the confidence of a player, but Matthijs gets full confidence from us, and I am sure that in the end he will only get better."

Netherlands will be without Memphis Depay when they face Belarus on Sunday, the forward having scored twice in the comeback win over Northern Ireland.

"It was too great a risk to let him play," said Koeman of Depay, who has dropped out of the squad due to a thigh issue. 

"Of course it is a shame, you always miss players like this, but luckily we have more good attackers.

"We had already made the decision to select an additional attacker. We are playing with three attackers tomorrow, and we have three behind them. That seems enough to me."

The state of the pitch in Minsk has made headlines but Koeman is unconcerned about the Dinamo Stadion surface.

"I took a look at it, but it didn't even bother me that much," he added. "It didn't matter that much that we now train on a side field."

Edwin van der Sar has compared Matthijs de Ligt to Cristiano Ronaldo, claiming they share a similar mentality to be among the world's best.

De Ligt starred in the youthful Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals last season before joining Ronaldo at Serie A giants Juventus.

Van der Sar played a pivotal part in developing Erik ten Hag's team in his role as Ajax CEO, with prospects such as Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek graduating through the club's famous youth system.

Netherlands international De Ligt has turned in some indifferent performances since moving to Turin and was at fault for Northern Ireland's goal against the Oranje in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday, but Van der Sar has no concerns over the defender's ability to adapt.

"He had been at Ajax all his life," Van der Sar told ESPN. "So to step away, move with your girlfriend and the family to a different city in Italy, he must learn a new language and get to know his team-mates.

"His mentality, that of someone who always tries to improve, makes him want to be the best defender in the world. And I've seen that with a few players, one of them is playing for his team, Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He has the same desire and hunger as De Ligt. Matthijs is only [20 years old]. He was fantastic for us at Ajax, our rock and our captain."

Despite De Ligt's error, Netherlands went on to beat Northern Ireland 3-1 to move top of Group C.

Their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign continues on Sunday as the Nations League runners-up travel to Belarus.

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt laughed off rumours of being put on a low-carbohydrate diet at the request of head coach Maurizio Sarri.

De Ligt has endured a tricky start to life at Serie A champions Juve since his €75million arrival from Eredivisie holders Ajax in the off-season.

The 20-year-old has shown signs of improvement in Turin, where the Netherlands centre-back has started to form a promising partnership with veteran Leonardo Bonucci following Giorgio Chiellini's serious knee injury.

De Ligt was asked about speculation that Sarri put him on a special diet amid fears over his weight and he told Nu.nl: "It really is a wild story.

"It doesn't surprise me anymore. Sometimes I think I had a decent game, but apparently there's something wrong after all. But those are only opinions. It's important to know what I do well and what went wrong – and I know that well.

"Every new player should get the time to adapt to the team. Juventus had two great defenders already with Chiellini and Bonucci. The plan was to let me enter the team slowly, but it worked out differently. Obviously it's great that I get to play already, but you get thrown in at the deep end right away. That's a great challenge for me.

"The most important lesson I have learned so far at Juventus is that you need self-confidence. In the beginning, I noticed I was way too concerned about not making mistakes and that's exactly what you shouldn't do. I never played that way and in my first weeks I was too focused on that.

"After that game against Atletico Madrid [in the Champions League] I called myself to order, in a way. I wanted to play with confidence again. Maybe still some things will go wrong, but at least I know for sure things are better than before. Since then I have an upward trend.

"The critiques you get after the game are part of the deal. Unfortunately that's the life of a defender. You're balancing on such a thin line of playing good or bad. Of course I'd rather not give away a penalty kick, but in the end we won [against Inter] and that's what matters."

Page 1 of 5
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.