Juventus captain and veteran Italy international defender Giorgio Chiellini gave contrasting views when recalling the stints of Manchester United stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba in Turin
Both Ronaldo and Pogba moved to Old Trafford following spells at Juventus, with the quirk that both players had spent time at United earlier in their career prior to their moves to Turin.
Portuguese superstar Ronaldo joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s late in the summer transfer window this year to seal a sensational return to United 12 years after initially leaving for Real Madrid.
Pogba’s return to the club had come about five years earlier – the £89million deal still stands as United’s most expensive ever signing.
Yet Chiellini – who captained Italy to this summer’s European Championships title – has very different views on how the two players were seen from inside Juve’s dressing room.
The veteran central defender gave his views on Ronaldo earlier this week, in which he was critical of the Portuguese’s late timing of his exit while also believing that the forward “needed new motivation” away from the Bianconeri.
Chiellini told DAZN: “I had already figured out he could leave this summer, because we reached a stage of the working relationship where Cristiano needed new motivation and a team that would play for him.
“When he finds a team like that, he can always be decisive, as he was at Juve too.
“Juventus are beginning a process of renewal and trying to bring the average age down, so clearly he would have been an added bonus if he’d stayed.
“But it is fair he wanted a team more focused on the present than the future.
“Ronaldo left on August 28 and it certainly would’ve been better if he had gone earlier so we could prepare. Unfortunately, we paid a price for that.
“It does create a shock to the system and we lost points in the opening games because of that.
“If he had left on August 1, then we would’ve had time to reorganise and be ready for the start of the season.”
The experienced Italian was more gushing when previously speaking of Pogba, whom he described as a “champion” and whom he claimed made a huge impact on the dressing room at Juve.
Chiellini recalled in his autobiography ‘Io Giorgio’: “I remember when he came. Three or four days into the retreat, my teammates and I looked at each other and said: ‘This guy is really good’.
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“He came as a free agent from Manchester United, he was very young, and we thought he was just one of many passing through. One of those who clubs use to do work on the market.
“However… Nobody expected such a champion. Paul moved around with incredible physique, he was magical, impressive. And to say that the first games he played out of position, in front of the defence to ease Pirlo.
“But knowing him, in the time to come it became clear that the role had limited him. Paul could not open his stride and free his physical and technical arrogance, what would allow him to become the formidable box-to-box player we know.”