Cristiano Ronaldo has “filled the void left by Gianluigi Buffon” at Juventus, claims Giorgio Chiellini, with the Portuguese leading the Bianconeri towards “new limits”.
Champions League success has proved elusive, though, and the club sought to scratch that itch when pulling off a stunning deal for Ronaldo in the summer of 2018.
His arrival coincided with the departure of long-serving goalkeeper Buffon, with the World Cup winner heading to Paris Saint-Germain after 17 memorable years.
A man with five Ballons d’Or to his name has slotted seamlessly into the fold at the Allianz Stadium and helped to convince those around him that they can scale even greater heights at home and abroad.
Chilleini told Marca of the 34-year-old, with Juve currently unbeaten at the top of the Serie A and preparing for a Champions League last-16 encounter with Atletico Madrid: “The arrival of Cristiano is important because it filled the void left by Buffon in terms of his personality or as an example to follow in the dressing room.
“Because Ronaldo, aside from what he does on the pitch - and only a crazy person would question him because he scores goals and creates them - has been important for us because he has been an example on how to better ourselves.
“After many years dominating in Italy, we could assume we'd reached our maximum, but thanks to Cristiano, we are doing even more than we thought we could - searching for new limits.
“We have reached two Champions League finals but, in order to carry on growing, we needed the best.
“He has helped us with his work ethic because whoever is near him feels admiration and we are always trying to 'rob something' from him because he is an example.”
Ronaldo has already broken through the 20-goal barrier in his debut season with Juventus.
Only one of those efforts has come in Europe, but he is the all-time leading marksman in Champions League history and boasts five winners’ medals to his name – including a hat-trick of successes across the last three seasons at Real Madrid.