Cristiano Ronaldo 'wasn't comfortable' when Carlo Ancelotti first played him as a striker

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Cristiano Ronaldo will go down as one of the greatest footballers of all time without question.

The Portuguese forward has achieved unbelievable success across his spells at Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Juventus, yet is showing no signs of slowing down.

He scored 21 goals in 31 appearances during his first season in Turin, firing his new club to their eighth consecutive Serie A title.

Ronaldo ended the campaign with 28 goals in all competitions to his name, which, rather incredibly, is his worst return since his final year at Old Trafford in 2008-09.

It sums just how prolific the 34-year-old has been for so long - a feat made all the more impressive given the positional evolution he’s undergone in the last five or so years.

Ronaldo left United to join Madrid as a winger, but now best fits the role of an out-and-out striker.

However, Paul Clement - who worked with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner during Carlo Ancelotti’s reign in the Spanish capital - says the transformation certainly didn’t happen overnight.

Recalling why the Italian manager tried deploying Ronaldo as a striker, Clement told Stadium Astro: “He wanted to free him up more so he could become more of a goalscorer and have less responsibility because when you play wide you have to track back.

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“He started it off like that in the pre-season, I'm not sure if it actually went into the season but certainly the early part of when we were there, but he said to Carlo: ‘I'm not comfortable of playing in that position because my back is to goal and that's not my strength’. 

“He said: ‘I prefer coming in from the left, running at defenders and shooting or providing crosses’. And a great sign of Carlo's management is that he didn't say: ‘You're going to play as a striker and you're going to do great there, Cristiano you need to be comfortable’.”

Instead, Ancelotti kept Ronaldo on the left of a front three and used the tireless Angel di Maria to provide cover from the left of a midfield trio.

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“We knew that if Cristiano went forward that Angel would have the ability to come across to provide cover and help Marcelo, who was at left-back.

“We knew what he liked and what he was good at and Carlo gave him the opportunity to go and do that.”

Ancelotti went on to deliver La Decima in his debut season, so fair play to him for listening to Ronaldo and adjusting accordingly.

Los Blancos’ leading all-time goalscorer netted 102 times during the 59-year-old’s two years at Madrid, which included a career-best return of 61 strikes in 2014-15.

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