Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t “comfortable” as a centre-forward when Carlo Ancelotti first transitioned him into the position at Real Madrid, says Paul Clement.
Ronaldo will go down as one of the most lethal strikers to have ever graced the pitch, with 689 goals to his name for both club and country down the years.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner started out his remarkable career as a winger and bagged an incredible 201 goals in 199 games during his first four seasons at Real Madrid.
Upon replacing Jose Mourinho in 2013, however, Ancelotti saw the potential in moving Ronaldo into a more central role. The Italian hoped it would free him up to focus on what he does best – scoring goals.
But even Ronaldo’s transformation from a winger into a striker was something that didn’t happen overnight.
“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,” former assistant coach Clement told Stadium Astro.
“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’.”
Clement added: “We knew that if Cristiano went forward that Angel [Di Maria] 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.”
Ronaldo scored 112 times and provided 46 assists in 101 games under Ancelotti at Real.
After a glorious nine years, Ronaldo left Los Blancos last summer as their record scorer on 450 goals in 438 matches. The Portugal captain now stars at Juventus, whom he helped him the Serie A title in his debut campaign.