Cristiano Ronaldo should have won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award instead of Virgil van Dijk, Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved has suggested.
Defender Van Dijk triumphed at Thursday’s ceremony having played a key part in Liverpool’s Champions League triumph last term and Netherlands’ run to the Nations League final.
Ronaldo appeared in good spirits despite being overlooked for the prize, joking with old rival Lionel Messi in a stage-side interview.
Nedved, though, was in no doubt over which of the nominated trio should have been given the trophy.
“I expected Ronaldo’s victory, but we accept everything,” he said to Sky Sport Italia.
Ronaldo hit a hat-trick to steer Juve through a Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid last season and the two clubs will meet again in the 2019-20 group stage.
The Serie A champions will also face Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow in Group D.
“A tough round, not easy, but there are no easy matches in the Champions League,” Nedved said. “We have changed a lot, we have a new coach and players, but I am convinced that we can do well.”
Juve coach Maurizio Sarri is yet to lead his team from the dugout in a competitive game after contracting pneumonia.
He missed a 1-0 win at Parma on the opening weekend and will be absent again for Saturday’s visit of old club Napoli.
Nedved, though, believes the former Chelsea boss will be ready to take his place when Juve face Fiorentina on September 14, ahead of their first Champions League group game the following week.
“It was right that, for these first two Serie A matches, he should be left to recover: with pneumonia, there is no joking,” he said.
“I think we will see him back on the bench immediately after the international break.”