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Ronaldo may be up for new challenge, says Mendes

 

By Ed Malyon

Cristiano Ronaldo will be "eternally grateful" to Real Madrid if he decides to call time on his nine-year stay with the European champions, according to his agent Jorge Mendes.

Ronaldo has been heavily linked with an £88m move to Juventus in recent days, with speculation in Spain and Italy that an agreement between the clubs could be struck soon.

Mendes refused to confirm whether or not Ronaldo has decided to leave the Bernabeu, but said it would be a "new challenge" if the Portugal superstar did move on.

He said: "If this happens it will simply be a new stage, a new challenge in his brilliant career.

"If Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid, he will be eternally grateful to the club, the president, all the directors, the medical staff, all the staff without exception, as well as all the Madrid fans around the world."

Ronaldo has regularly been linked with a move away from Madrid, but speculation has intensified in the wake of comments he made after the team's Champions League final win over Liverpool in May.

Ronaldo said immediately following the 3-1 victory in Kiev: "In the coming days there will be an answer about my future for the fans, who have always been by my side. It has been very nice playing for Real Madrid."

Despite suggesting he would reveal more soon, the 33-year-old, who has been on World Cup duty with Portugal, has not publicly commented on his future since that match.

However, the last couple of days has seen increased media reports of an impending divorce between Madrid and their all-time record goalscorer, who joined the Spanish giants in a then-world record £80m move from Manchester United in 2009.

Various clubs had been linked with Ronaldo, but Juve have seemingly emerged as front-runners in a deal which could see the Italian champions splash out £88m on the five-time Ballon d'Or award winner.

That would smash Juve's existing transfer record, which was the £75m they spent to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli in 2016.

While Ronaldo's Madrid future remains in the air, the La Liga powerhouses have continued their preparations for next season with the signing of Spain defender Alvaro Odriozola from Real Sociedad.

The 22-year-old right-back will put pen to paper on a six-year contract with Madrid, subject to a medical, the club announced yesterday.

Reports in Spain say Madrid have paid in the region of £31m for Odriozola, who becomes the club's first new signing since Julen Lopetegui replaced Zinedine Zidane as head coach.

Lopetegui included Odriozola in his Spain squad for this summer's World Cup, but the San Sebastian-born full-back did not feature in any of the team's four matches as they were knocked out at the last-16 stage.

Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the tournament after accepting the Madrid job, with Fernando Hierro taking charge.

Meanwhile, teams will be able to use a fourth substitute in extra-time in next season's Champions League and Europa League, Uefa have announced.

Clubs can also list 12 substitutes on teamsheets, rather than the current seven, in the finals.

Other rule amendments include allowing coaching staff to use hand-held electronic devices. They can use equipment including mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

The changes take effect immediately and also apply to other competitions, including the 2020 European Championship.

A fifth substitute will be allowed in next season's Uefa Youth League, plus the men's and women's European Under-17 and Under-19 Championships.

Uefa say the hand-held electronic equipment can be used by coaches in the stands or on the bench if it directly relates to player welfare or safety, or for tactical/coaching reasons.

It means medical staff will be able to review potential concussions on laptops.

Officials and medics did not see a collision between Loris Karius and Real's Sergio Ramos in the 2017-18 Champions League final, which may have led to the Liverpool keeper's concussion.

In 2016, rugby union's English Premiership became the first league in the world to allow access to tablets for staff

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