La Gazetta dello Sport have reported that the 36-year-old ‘got angry’ with a number of his teammates, including Giorgio Chiellini and Federico Chiesa after ‘poor passes’. After netting a brace against Atalanta at the start of the season, a game in which he took his calendar year tally to 20, Corriere dello Sport were perhaps even more effusive than Italiano in their praise. He’ll have a fight on his hands to keep hold of that duty, with Ronaldo scoring nine of his own last season – but United’s new star man offers much more from open play. Ronaldo scored four goals in four games at the World Cup with Portugal, but they were knocked out in the second round by Uruguay. But last season it all clicked, after years of lacklustre seasons in Italy’s second tier, and Brescia edged out Lecce by a solitary point to lift the title. But while it was out with the old and in with the new in the boardroom, in the dug-out an under-pressure Vincenzo Montella remained.
But while it’s some serious dollar to be forking out for a player not far off coming to the end of his career, Juventus are already feeling the power of his brand in terms of shirt sales. But while he may be shy in front of his idol, he appears to have adopted a more boisterous attitude towards his comparison with Ibrahimovic from a young age. And while his world record move to PSG would have nearly earned him top spot on this list by himself, his move from Santos to the Nou Camp in 2013 sees him comfortably take the crown as football’s most expensive player. United have often been accused of being ‘penalty merchants’ over the years – with Fernandes slotting in nine from the spot last season. Yet what relevance is that in a season when Manchester United have lost to West Ham and Brighton, and failed to beat Wolves, Crystal Palace and Derby at home? Sportsmail understands Manchester United have made checks on the tall forward. However, it is always the comparison with Milan and Sweden veteran Ibrahimovic which has stuck, perhaps because he is the forward who has arguably had the greatest impact on his career aside from the comparisons.
The Juventus forward overtook the Brazilian’s total last weekend by netting a hat-trick in his side’s 3-1 victory Cagliari to take his own tally to 770 goals. The humiliating 3-0 loss on the opening night of the Champions League on Tuesday meant that Juventus has already conceded the same number of goals it allowed in all of last season’s competition before it was beaten 4-1 by Real Madrid in the final. Atalanta have a serious task on their hands to top the success of 2018-19 where a third-placed finish saw them secure Champions League football. In hindsight though, they need not have signed the Russian, who has gone on to make only seven appearances without scoring since January, such has been Vlahovic’s form. More interestingly, he needs just three more to catch up with Ronaldo, who netted 33 for Juventus in 2020, and become the third-most prolific striker in Italian top-flight history in a single calendar year.
That is a superior goalscoring record for the Tuscany outfit than Gabriel Batistuta and Luca Toni, but his statistics in Serie A history are even more stunning. Fiorentina were only four points above the relegation zone at the end of the calendar year, and with Serie A survival far from guaranteed, a move in the transfer market was not surprising. By then, Vlahovic will hope to have got close to the Serie A records of Gunnar Nordahl (36 goals in 1950) and Felice Placido Borel (41 goals in 1933) for goals in a calendar year, particularly with bottom club Salernitana and Sassuolo at home and Hellas Verona away in the league before the Christmas break. The Serbia international has scored 30 goals in 40 Serie A games this calendar year, 13 of which have come in 16 games this season. Not only has he nearly equalled that tally this season, but his strikes have come in critical matches at critical moments. After the pandemonium had settled down, the question most neutrals had about Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational return to Old Trafford was: ‘Have Manchester United been ruled by their head, or their heart? Perhaps Manchester United’s directors had a similar epiphany when PSG loomed large.