Cristiano Ronaldo is a natural-born winner who has proven he does not like to be in the comfort zone throughout his glittering career, says former Portugal international Abel Xavier.

Since joining Manchester United as a prodigious teenager, Ronaldo has racked up the biggest collective and individual prizes in world football.

In six years with the Red Devils, Ronaldo won three Premier League trophies, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and the Champions League in 2008.

That tradition of winning continued during nine prolific seasons with Real Madrid, during which time he became Los Blancos' all-time record goalscorer, won two LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey and the Champions League on four occasions.

Ronaldo opted to depart Madrid for Juventus ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and lifted the Serie A trophy and Supercoppa Italiana during that debut term.

Another league title with Juve appears on the horizon, with the Bianconeri four points clear of Lazio with 10 games remaining.

Former Liverpool and Roma full-back Xavier says Ronaldo is fuelled by undertaking different challenges and would be successful wherever he plays.

"He's a winner and his mental focus is great," Xavier told Stats Perform News of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"You realise he does not like the comfort zone. He was in Madrid, he won; he was at Man United, he won; he's at Juventus and has also won things.

"Wherever he goes, he is going to win – individually and collectively.

"Of course, there is going to arrive a moment when he is not going to be able to produce the same style of football, but when you're looking to win – concerning the goalscoring positions – he is one of the best.

"Nowadays, the effort [for the team] is to try and put him in the right place to score. His qualities now are more a finisher, being in the right place to finish.

"For me, as a Portuguese, and for all people who love football, we admire him. He's a great player, a great athlete and a great team-mate in football."

Ronaldo is now 35 but Xavier sees no let-up in the hunger for glory and says helping Juve defend their title will be at the forefront of his season aims.

"I think that is his main goal. That is his main objective because he's a winner," Xavier added.

"I know him from my time as a player when he was a young player who started to be integrated into the national team environment.

"I believe he is still intact, he is still a very strong-minded, focused person. And he wants to win titles. He wants to win titles individually, he wants to win them collectively."

Earlier this season, which was disrupted for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ronaldo was reported to have fallen out with Juve boss Maurizio Sarri, rumours exacerbated by the head coach substituting his superstar in two straight games when Juve were not in front.

Xavier believes regardless of the personal relationship between the two they will always be brought together by the desire for success.

"They've been having a few problems recently. A moment arrives for a coach when it becomes hard because you need to manage egos, you need to be able to keep forming the players and putting in the correct identity for your style of play," Xavier said.

"The players need to accept that to be together.

"But, I don't know if the administration will make a decision on that, concerning the coach. But the leadership of the players is very important and they still have the chances and opportunities to win two important titles – Serie A and the Champions League.

"Whatever is happening with the coaching position, they have these two main objectives to be focused on."

Miralem Pjanic has been included in Juventus' squad to face Genoa on Tuesday, a day after his impending move to Barcelona was confirmed.

It was announced Barca had agreed an initial fee of €60million to take Pjanic to Camp Nou at the end of the season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction in a deal that could eventually cost Juve €82m.

Pjanic is among the party named by Juve for the clash at the Luigi Ferraris, where the Bianconeri will continue their bid for a ninth Serie A title.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, prior to the confirmation of the deal, Juve coach Maurizio Sarri said he had no doubts Pjanic would give his all to the cause before heading to Barca.

"If the transfer becomes official, [Pjanic] will be happy because he will end his career in a great team," Sarri said.

"The boy can be happy with this solution, I am peaceful because he is serious and intelligent. The possibility that he doesn't give us 101 per cent, I don't see it."

Juve are four points clear of second-place Lazio at the top of Serie A with 10 games remaining.

Maurizio Sarri believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala can start against Genoa, but the Juventus coach is keen to avoid a "problem" going forward.

Juventus' busy run of fixtures continues against Genoa on Tuesday, before they host Torino four days later.

Ronaldo has played every minute of their four games since the coronavirus-enforced break, while Dybala has started each match.

Sarri said the pair were likely ready to start again, but he knows the star duo will need a rest at some stage.

"It's likely that they can start again [against Genoa]," he told a news conference.

"It's clear that if they play every game, in two or three matches we may have a problem, but I don't think there is any risk for them to suffer some sort of fatigue right now.

"In the long run though we need to have [Gonzalo] Higuain fit and able to play a large part of the game, this will become essential at some point."

With 10 games remaining in the Serie A season, Juventus hold a four-point lead atop the table.

Barcelona and Juventus have hammered out the details of agreements that will see Miralem Pjanic line up alongside Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann next season, with Arthur poised to begin the next chapter of his fledgling career in Turin.

The part exchange deal involving these two stylish, deep-lying midfielders – Arthur's switch to Juve was valued at an initial €72million, with Pjanic costing Barca €60m – prompted plenty of raised eyebrows.

Pjanic has been a consistent performer since joining Juventus from Roma in 2016, while only last season Arthur was been spoken of as a potential heir to Xavi.

In order to try to make sense of why each club gave the green light for their players to trade places, we have enlisted a little help from Opta.

MIRALEM THE MAINSTAY

Much has been made of the age difference between the two players, especially given the near parity in transfer fees.

Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur, 23, but having those extra miles in his legs has not affected his output when it comes to time on the field.

Each man made 44 appearances in all competitions last term, but Pjanic's 3,277 minutes on the pitch dwarfed Arthur's 2,476.

That, in part, was as a result of the Brazil international establishing himself during a breakthrough campaign, but form and fitness issues have restricted him to 28 games and 1,541 minutes this time around. Pjanic is on 36 appearances and 2,903 minutes as Juve chase down another Scudetto.

GOALS AND ASSISTS

One area where there has been a notable uptick for Arthur this season is in front of goal. The former Gremio star has scored four times, having failed to find the net at all in 2018-19. He also has four assists, up from two.

Pjanic is far more noted for his creative qualities but only has two assists this term, down from eight in the previous campaign – perhaps indicative of him being slightly shackled within Maurizio Sarri's system.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker has seven goals across the past two seasons, although his numbers in both metrics owe a debt to his prowess from dead-ball situations. How many free-kicks Messi will let him take at Camp Nou feels like a legitimate question to ask.

PASS MASTERS

These are two players who cherish the ball and do not make a habit of letting it fall into opposition control. In their most recent seasons, neither dips below a pass completion percentage of 90.

Arthur completed 91.7 per cent of his passes in opposition territory last term – a figure he has maintained with 91.1 this time around.

Pjanic dips slightly to 88 per cent in the attacking half, figures that probably reflect his more ambitious and expansive style, along with the fact he lost possession 455 times in 2018-19 compared to 225 for Arthur.

DOING THE DIRTY WORK

In their positions at the base of the midfield, there is a burden on Arthur and Pjanic to destroy as well as create.

The Brazilian won 146 duels compared to 127 by his Bosnian counterpart last season and he is only two behind this term despite a significant disparity in playing time.

Pjanic is out in front when it comes to interceptions, winning 50 to Arthur's six this season and 53-19 in 2018-19, while the older man's recovery stats (256 and 213) are also comfortably more plentiful than his Juventus replacement (179 and 101).

Barcelona have a deal to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus for an initial €60million, with Arthur having agreed to move in the opposite direction in a separate arrangement.

Pjanic will put pen to paper on a four-year contract with Barca and join them at the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign. The transfer includes an additional €5m in variables.

Earlier on Monday, LaLiga's champions confirmed Arthur will join Juve from next season for an initial €72m. The Bianconeri are yet to reveal the details of the Brazil international's contract.

Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic is seven years Arthur's senior and has been at Juve since a switch from Roma in 2016.

The set-piece specialist has remained an integral part of the team since Maurizio Sarri replaced Massimiliano Allegri as head coach for this season, although he arguably does not entirely meet the ex-Napoli and Chelsea boss' very specific demands for his holding midfielder.

Pjanic has won Serie A in each of his three completed seasons in Turin, scoring 22 times in 171 appearances across all competitions.

He is well-placed to make it four in a row, with Juve four points clear of Lazio in this season's Scudetto race, although Barcelona's plans to freshen up their midfield are perhaps partially explained by them falling two points shy of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga – meaning Arthur might struggle to leave as a back-to-back champion.

Arthur has agreed to join Juventus from Barcelona in a deal worth an initial €72million, LaLiga's champions have confirmed.

The Brazil international will conclude the 2019-20 campaign at Camp Nou before moving to Juve from next season. The transfer could be worth a further €10m in variables.

Miralem Pjanic is widely expected to complete a move in the opposite direction after both players were reported to have passed their medicals on Sunday.

Arthur joined Barcelona on a six-year contract in July 2018 for €40m, having impressed in Gremio's 2017 Copa Libertadores triumph

The 23-year-old impressed during his debut campaign, with his smooth passing style suggesting he might serve as a long-term heir to Xavi.

However, 2019-20 has proved trickier for Arthur, with Ernesto Valverde's exit as head coach and Quique Setien's appointment doing little for his prospects. Having played 44 times in all competitions last term, he has managed 28 this time around.

Earlier on Monday he was named in Barca's squad to face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Setien's side have drawn two of their past three games to fall two points behind Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with six games remaining.

Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini have signed one-year contract extensions with Juventus, the Serie A leaders have confirmed.

The experienced pair were both on contracts that would have expired this year, but they will play on for at least another campaign. 

Chiellini has been with the club since 2005 and amassed over 500 appearances for the Bianconeri, while Buffon first arrived in Turin 19 years ago, his spell only interrupted by a season with Paris Saint-Germain. 

Despite their advanced years – Chiellini and Buffon are 35 and 42 respectively, Juve still see value in the Italy icons and will be able to count on them again in 2020-21. 

"These are players who need no introduction," a Juve statement read. "Champions whose story speaks for itself, and whose connection with the shirt they wear is indissoluble.

"Examples on the pitch and in the locker room, leaders, driving forces, bearers of the Bianconeri DNA, who wear it as a second skin.

"Gianluigi Buffon. Giorgio Chiellini. Captains, legends."

Chiellini has been limited to just three Serie A appearances in 2019-20, having suffered a serious knee ligament injury in August. 

The defender made his return after a lengthy lay-off in February, though the centre-back has not been able to feature since the campaign resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break due to fitness issues. 

Goalkeeper Buffon, meanwhile, has also been limited in terms of first-team football since rejoining the club last year, though he has still featured 13 times across all competitions as reserve behind Wojciech Szczesny.

 

Juventus have sold midfielder Simone Muratore to Atalanta for €7million, the Serie A leaders confirmed on Monday. 

Muratore, 22, came through Juve's academy and has been a regular for their second team in Serie C over the past two seasons. 

He made his first-team debut as a late substitute in Friday's 4-0 Serie A win over Lecce, replacing Federico Bernardeschi. 

While the former Italy youth international has been denied a future in the Juve senior squad, Muratore looks set to have a proper crack at Serie A with Atalanta. 

The club have not confirmed the length of his contract, but Juve revealed they will receive the fee over four years.

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Barcelona midfielder Arthur and Juventus' Miralem Pjanic are seemingly getting closer to swapping clubs.

The LaLiga and Serie A giants have been linked with numerous moves this close season, but one may be getting close to completion.

Arthur and Pjanic are set to trade places and it could be close to reality.

 

TOP STORY – ARTHUR, PJANIC SET FOR MEDICALS IN TURIN

Barcelona midfielder Arthur and Juventus' Pjanic will undergo medicals on Sunday, according to Sport.

The Catalan sports paper says Arthur flew to Italy on Saturday accompanied by a Barcelona doctor ahead of checks in Turin.

Arthur will then return to Barcelona and finish the season with the LaLiga champions, who slipped up again in their title defence on Saturday as Celta Vigo twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United may still be trying to find a way to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho. The Mirror reports United need to sell at least four stars – including Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard – if they are to get a deal done for Sancho.

- Staying at Old Trafford and United could be getting closer to signing Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish. The Daily Express says Grealish has found a house to buy in the North West.

- Chelsea may yet strengthen further ahead of next season. According to The Sun, they are growing confident they will sign West Ham star Declan Rice in the close season.

- Arsenal's decision to re-sign David Luiz has been criticised. However, The Telegraph reports the Brazilian defender agreed to a significant pay cut.

- Tanguy Ndombele's future may be at Tottenham. Football.London reports Spurs have no plans to sell Ndombele at the end of the season, with Jose Mourinho having denied reports of a rift with the midfielder earlier this week.

Arthur was left out of the Barcelona starting line-up to face Celta Vigo amid reports he will have a medical at Juventus on Sunday.

Brazil international Arthur was named among the substitutes for Saturday's LaLiga clash at Balaidos but in the next 24 hours is expected to undergo tests prior to a switch to Juve that could cost €80million.

It is also claimed that Bianconeri midfielder Miralem Pjanic will have a medical on the same day before heading in the opposite direction.

Pjanic played the full 90 minutes as Juve defeated Lecce 4-0 on Friday and will reportedly command a fee of €70m.

After that game, Juve boss Maurizio Sarri said: "I don't know if Pjanic will no longer play with Juventus, I have not received any communication.

"These are not things that interest us, the market only starts in September. Miralem's a professional, he understands situations quickly. 

"I don't know anything at the moment, but I'm not worried."

Barca boss Quique Setien was unwilling to discuss the possibility of Pjanic arriving at Camp Nou at a news conference on Friday and said Arthur remained in his plans.

Setien said: "In principle I still have Arthur. He is important like the rest. He will train and in principle he will travel and has the possibility of playing.

"I hope all this noise does not affect him and that if he plays, he tries to give the best of himself.

"Any player who is in such a situation must make it clear the season is not over, win a title and leave a good impression until the last day he is here.

"I do not take it for granted that he is going to leave. The club has not informed me Arthur is leaving. He will be with us until the last game of the season.

"If it happens, I will try to convince him to leave a good impression. The most important thing is to be honest until the last day and I am convinced he is."

Achraf Hakimi appears to have found a new home.

The Morocco international has impressed during his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, attracting plenty of interest.

But LaLiga giants Real Madrid are reportedly ready to cash in on Achraf.

 

TOP STORY – INTER AGREE ACHRAF DEAL

Inter have agreed a deal to sign Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Achraf has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, who have been interested in signing the Morocco international permanently.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs interested in Achraf, but Madrid are set to sell the 21-year-old to Antonio Conte's Inter for a reported €40million fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Leroy Sane's proposed move to Bayern Munich is on hold until 2021. The Manchester City star is tipped to leave the Etihad Stadium for Bundesliga champions Bayern, though the two clubs have been unable to strike a deal. Sane now looks likely to depart once his contract expires next year.

Arthur will travel to Turin in the coming days to undergo a medical ahead of his move to Juventus, according to RAC1. Barcelona midfielder Arthur is set to join Juve, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.

Roma are plotting a move for free agent Edinson Cavani, says Calciomercato. Cavani is available on a free transfer after leaving PSG, with Atletico Madrid, Inter and Napoli eyeing the Uruguayan forward.

- Sport reports the Champions League will determine Neymar's future at PSG. Neymar has long been linked with a return to Barca following his world-record departure in 2017.

- Calciomercato says Milan are focused on signing Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. However, PSG and Arsenal are also among the teams eyeing the 19-year-old Hungarian.

Manchester United are among the possible destinations for Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who faces an uncertain future with the London club, according to L'Equipe.

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will improve the more he plays after the coronavirus-enforced break, according to head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo converted a penalty as Serie A leaders Juve routed 10-man Lecce 4-0 in Turin on Friday – the defending champions opening a seven-point advantage over scudetto challengers Lazio.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner took his tally to 23 goals in Serie A this season, though Ronaldo has been in the headlines for his lack of form since the 2019-20 campaign restarted earlier this month following the COVID-19 crisis.

Asked about Ronaldo post-match, Sarri told reporters: "Cristiano now can play with a good fit. He needs to improve after the break and he is doing match after match.

"He needs to play a lot. In the future we will find the way to preserve him across matches or for some matches.

"He is great in listening to himself and he will realise when he will need to stop and rest. But now I think he fits quite well."

Juve overran Lecce following a goalless opening 45 minutes which saw Fabio Lucioni sent off, with Paulo Dybala, Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Matthijs de Ligt on target in the second half.

Ronaldo teed up Dybala to score a brilliant 53rd-minute opener before doubling the lead from the penalty spot nine minutes later.

Juve forward Ronaldo was again influential for substitute Higuain's strike in the 83rd minute, with De Ligt rounding off the rout five minutes from the end.

Amid doubts and criticism over Higuain, Sarri said: "For us he is very important. He is powerful, one of the strongest centre forward in the world right now. He can be decisive for us at the end of the season."

Juve – top of the table through 28 matches – travel to relegation-threatened Genoa on Tuesday.

Maurizio Sarri admits he does not know if Miralem Pjanic will remain at Juventus beyond the end of the season but is not overly concerned by reports over the midfielder's future.

Pjanic played 90 minutes as the Bianconeri overran 10-man Lecce 4-0 in Friday's Serie A contest to open up a seven-point lead over scudetto challengers Lazio.

The future of Pjanic has been the topic of much debate amid reports he is headed to Barcelona in a swap deal that will see Arthur move to Turin.

Sarri spoke before the game to say he has had no update on such a deal and continued to follow a similar party line when speaking to Sky Sport Italy following the win.

"I don't know if Pjanic will no longer play with Juventus , I have not received any communication," he Juve head coach said. 

"These are not things that interest us, the market only starts in September. Miralem's a professional, he understands situations quickly. 

"I don't know anything at the moment, but I'm not worried."

Sarri added: "He'll be with us until the end of August. I hope he'll stay with us even beyond that, but these are decisions that will be made at a later stage."

Juve were slow off the mark against Lecce and the game remained 0-0 until half-time despite a straight red card for Fabio Lucioni.

But the floodgates opened in the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo teeing up Paulo Dybala to score a brilliant opener before doubling the lead from the penalty spot.

Ronaldo was again influential for Gonzalo Higuain's strike, with Matthijs de Ligt rounding off the rout.

Sarri was particularly happy for Higuain given how the coronavirus crisis has affected the Argentine striker, an issue he had spoken about pre-game.

"He had a difficult time on a personal and global level, because the coronavirus emergency hit him a lot and left a mark on him," Sarri added. 

"He has returned, had a minor injury and is now getting back into shape. I am happy that he scored immediately, he is a player who will give us a lot in this season finale."

Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain helped Juventus move seven points clear at the top of Serie A with a resounding 4-0 win over 10-man Lecce at the Allianz Stadium.

Fabio Lucioni's first-half dismissal left lowly Lecce, who had started brightly, facing a daunting task yet it needed a moment of brilliance from Dybala to open the scoring after 53 minutes.

Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were guilty of woeful misses in the opening period but the former lashed home his 23rd Serie A goal of the campaign from the penalty spot before excellently setting up Higuain.

Matthijs de Ligt added a fourth that was harsh on Lecce as Maurizio Sarri's men stretched their lead on Lazio, beaten 3-2 by Atalanta last time out, albeit their rivals have a game in hand.

Andrea Rispoli flashed wide on the half-volley as Juve were carved open after four minutes.

Gabriel parried Adrien Rabiot's long-range shot and Ronaldo drilled wide of the right post as Juventus came to life and soon found themselves a man up.

Rodrigo Bentancur caught Lucioni in possession 40 yards from goal and the centre-back chopped down his opponent to earn the straight red.

Ronaldo incredibly put a close-range header from Dybala's corner over the top when unmarked then teed up Bernardeschi, who missed an even bigger sitter when blazing high from inside the six-yard box.

Gabriel was in action again to keep out Leonardo Bonucci's header just after the restart but was powerless to stop Dybala opening the scoring.

Evgen Shakhov's careless pass was picked up by Ronaldo, who teed up the Argentina forward to curl a sumptuous left-foot effort into the top-right corner from the edge of the area. 

It was game over just after the hour when Ronaldo lashed home the penalty he won after being tripped by Luca Rossettini.

The Portugal superstar would have had another had Gabriel not kept out his point-blank header but his ingenious backheel after a fine run deflected into the path of Higuain, who drilled home the third.

De Ligt then nodded in Douglas Costa's corner as Juve ultimately ran out comfortable winners.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.