Ronaldo greets Juve fans, sparks Champions League dreams

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ROME, July 16 (AFP): Juventus fans gave Cristiano Ronaldo a rousing welcome on Monday as the club prepared to unveil the superstar summer signing they hope will bring the Champions League trophy back to Turin.

Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Allianz Stadium in Turin from early morning singing “Ronaldo, bring us the Champions (League)” as the European competition’s most lethal striker of all time made a brief appearance ahead of his medical Monday.

The 33-year-old emerged from the club’s medical centre to sign autographs and shake hands amid raucous chants of his name before shooting back inside for further tests.

The five-times Ballon d’Or winner will be officially unveiled to the world’s media at a press conference scheduled for 6:30 pm (1630 GMT), in which he will sign a four-year deal that will earn him a reported 30 million euros a season.

Ronaldo fever hit Turin after the announcement last week of his 100 million-euro ($117 million) transfer from European champions Real Madrid, which Italian media reports will cost Juve a total of 350 million euros.

Many of the youngsters who came out to greet their new hero were wearing Juventus shirts emblazoned with “Ronaldo” and the number 7, which have been selling like hot cakes in the city.

Others wore t-shirts with the message “Bem-vindo” — “welcome” in Portuguese — which 5,000 shopkeepers put up on posters around the north-western Italian city ahead of Ronaldo’s arrival late Sunday.

One ice-cream parlour in Turin has even invented a “CR7” cone, featuring a Portuguese cherry liquor and chocolate shavings.

The mood of joy was not universally shared. His costly signing upset leaders of one minority union at an automobile plant in southern Italy owned by Fiat-Chrysler — in turn owned by the same holding company as Juventus.

They called a protest strike for Monday but only five out of the plant’s 1,700 workers turned out in support of the action dismissed as a “stunt” by bigger unions representing the workers in Melfi, in the Basilicata region.

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