With transfer rumors continuing to swirl about his future at the club, Cristiano Ronaldo started Juventus' season opener on the bench as the Serie A giant blew a two-goal lead to Udinese.
On Saturday, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri announced that Ronaldo said he was staying at the club. But the scene on Sunday in Udine sparked more transfer rumors as the Portuguese star reportedly asked to not start the game, according to Sky Sport Italia, before coming on in the 60th minute of a 2-2 game.
However, Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved said there was no doubt that Ronaldo would remain at the club.
"It was a shared decision with the player,"Nedved told Sky Sport Italia. "We are at the beginning of the season and our conditioning is not at the highest level, not just Cristiano but the entire squad."
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Paulo Dybala opened the scoring in the second minute followed by Juan Cuadrado's 23rd-minute goal, but Udinese rallied back with two second-half goals of its own. Then, in the 94th minute, Ronaldo appeared to score a dramatic match-winner with a powerful header, but VAR ruled him just offside and annulled the goal. However, the 36-year-old kept the yellow card that was issued to him for removing his shirt in celebration.
"Ronaldo is fine," Allegri told Sky Sport Italia. "I spoke with him and, thinking about the match and everyone's condition, I told him: 'Come start on the bench because we're going to need you in the second half.' He made himself available and did well."
Last week, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said that the club was not looking to make a move for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner before the Aug. 31 summer transfer deadline. Ronaldo later posted a lengthy rebuke on Instagram of the media's coverage of him this summer.
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