Ronaldo represents Juventus 'future' - club chief Paratici

Could Haaland and Mbappe be the next rivalry for the decade? (1:17)

Gab and Juls debate if Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe will be the next rivalry after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. (1:17)

Juventus director Fabio Paratici said Cristiano Ronaldo represents the "future" of the club following rumours of a return to Real Madrid.

Ronaldo was criticised for his role in Juve's Champions League exit to FC Porto with ex-Bianconeri manager Fabio Capello having labelled his failure to block Sergio Oliveira's free kick which decided the tie "the worst." Former president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli suggested the club offload the Portugal captain at the end of the season.

- Serie A on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Reports after the match had suggested Ronaldo was unhappy about the result and keen on returning to Madrid.

"It makes me laugh," Paratici said to Sky Sport Italia ahead of Juve's Serie A clash with Cagliari, when asked about the criticism. "In my career, I never thought I'd hear debates about Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I grew up in a small town. In bars or the parish, I heard these discussions about [Roberto] Baggio or [Sandro] Mazzola.

"I never thought I'd hear them about Ronaldo now. He is Serie A top goal scorer. He has won the Ballon d'Or five times. It's a privilege to have him Without doubt, he represents Juventus' future."

Paratici's comments came a day after Juve boss Andrea Pirlo had defended Ronaldo's record with them, following criticism over their failure to reach the Champions League semifinals in his three seasons at the club.

Ronaldo scored a "perfect" first-half hat trick as Juve beat Cagliari 3-1. His first was a header, followed by a right-footed penalty and he completed his treble with a left foot shot from the right of the area.