Edgar Davids (right) with Fabrizio Puglisi, CEO of FFG Sports Management LCC, who are helping to bring Juventus Academies to the UAE. Image Credit: Ashley Hammond/Gulf News

Ras Al Khaimah: Cristiano Ronaldo is the best of the best but bringing him to Juventus won’t necessarily guarantee them the Uefa Champions League title this season even if holders Real Madrid are now flailing without him, says former Juve midfielder Edgar Davids. Since the Portuguese striker left the Santiago Bernabeu for Turin this summer in a €100 million (Dh459.67 million) move, Juve are unbeaten and lead both Serie A and their Champions League group table.

Real on the other hand have struggled both domestically and in Europe, sacking their coach Julen Lopetegui on Monday following Sunday’s 5-1 defeat away to Barcelona, which leaves them ninth in La Liga after losing three in a row.

On the continent, Real may still be joint group leaders with Roma, but they have suffered on their travels losing 1-0 away to CSKA Moscow. This may put Real’s chances of a fourth straight Champions League title in doubt this season, but Davids doesn’t think that automatically makes Juve the new favourites based solely on account of them just having Ronaldo.

“Juventus are Juventus and Real Madrid are Real Madrid. The Champions League is so difficult, it’s like a lottery, sometimes you’re just unlucky,” said Davids, on the sidelines of the Juventus Academy launch in Ras Al Khaimah on Tuesday.

“Juventus played twice against teams that were like the best in the world, but also in the best shape at the time,” he added of Juve’s two Champions League final defeats to Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2015 and 2017 respectively — their last of two Champions League title wins came in 1996, but they have lost the final five times since then and are in fact the record most Champion League final losers with a total seven defeats.

“It’s unlucky, but still they had a chance to win it, so you see the power of Juventus.

“You have to see it in the long term, playing two finals in four years says something about the club and if you reach the final that says something again, that means you are at the top.

“I know they are going to hate me for saying this, but I’d rather stay top another 10 years than just win one Champions League and disappear, but that’s my opinion.”

The Dutchman, who played over 150 games for Juve winning three Italian league titles, did, however, concede that having Ronaldo would at least inspire the next generation of players, particularly those of the Juventus Academy, which now has nine locations across three emirates in the UAE, after opening its latest branches in Ras Al Khaimah earlier this month.

“Ronaldo is the best of the best, I mean not only as a football player but also as a human being. You can see how he developed and how devoted he is to really staying on top every year to excel. I think that is something unbelievable and I said it before and will say it again, he is an athlete and an athlete is a positive thing.

“If you say athlete you think track and field, but in America they talk about someone that’s complete, and that’s what he brings. When you look at youth they want to aspire to somebody. You can see that with him you have to work hard, and that’s what you bring if you have someone like Ronaldo who embodies hard work and determination. You don’t have to say anymore but just look at the number seven, and I think that’s so important for the youth to look and say: ‘Hey, this guy worked for everything and had fun doing it’, because that’s also important.”

Boys and girls aged 4-17-years-old can join the academy, which targets 1,000 members across the UAE by the end of the season, from October 2 until May 15.

For a location near you visit www.juventus.com/academydubai, www.juventus.com/academyabudhabi or www.juventus.com/academyrak