Matthijs de Ligt has provided a glowing character reference for wantaway Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo amid ongoing speculation over his Old Trafford future.
De Ligt spent two seasons alongside Ronaldo at Juventus and, had things turned out differently, those two might have been reunited this summer. De Ligt was linked with United before completing a move to Bayern Munich while Ronaldo was briefly linked with the German champions — before they distanced themselves from a move.
For now, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner remains at United after returning to Carrington and featuring in the pre-season agme against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday afternoon. It was his first outing this summer after missing United’s pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia due to a family issue.
That came amid continued question marks on what Ronaldo will do next. And his future is still unclear.
Despite scoring 101 goals in 134 for Juventus over three seasons, the Portugal captain has been widely criticised since leaving Turin by notable Juventus figures such as Gianluigi Buffon and Georgio Chiellini. However, as far as De Ligt is concerned, suggestions that Ronaldo is not a team player could not be wider of the mark.
During an interview with Kicker, former Juventus defender De Ligt said: “Cristiano Ronaldo is a great character, he talks a lot with his teammates, with the young players, and is always ready to help. He will soon be 38, but shaped like a 24-year-old and still scores his goals, you can only admire him.
“He did a great job at Juventus, he scored goals and was a great teammate. If you ask me who is the best player in the world inside the penalty area I say Ronaldo. You always have to keep an eye on him otherwise he scores.”