Dejan Lovren believes Cristiano Ronaldo ‘deserves maximum respect’ for all he’s done, and tipped the Portuguese ace to star in his forties.
Lovren is currently preparing to face Portugal for Croatia’s UEFA Nations League opener on Saturday in Porto (20:45 CEST).
The visitors hope to vanquish the memory of their poor performance in the inaugural campaign, where they won just once in four games to suffer a group-stage exit, by doing better this time around.
Head coach Zlatko Dalic has, though, left out Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic from his squad. The absence of arguably two of their finest players could prove costly. Especially if Ronaldo recovers from a toe infection in time for Portugal.
And Lovren, who has lost five and drawn one of his six encounters against Cristiano, knows Croatia could be in for a hard time if the five-time Ballon d’Or winner makes a recovery.
“There’s no need to waste words on Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s a player that has been playing a top-level for 15 years,” said Lovren in a press conference as quoted by the MrBeanyman YouTube channel.
“He’s the best player in recent football history who proves what a machine he is year after year.
“Cristiano Ronaldo deserves maximum respect. What he and [Lionel] Messi are doing is truly amazing.”
The former Liverpool defender added: “It will be very difficult [to face him & Portugal].
“I hear some people mention his age, but they forget about his statistics and his goal-scoring performance.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is always dangerous, at 35 or 36, he will even be dangerous at 40.
“And one more thing, Portugal is not only Cristiano Ronaldo. Our first opponent in the Nations League has a lot of good players in their ranks who play for big clubs. I repeat, it will be very difficult.”
No new updates have been released yet on Ronaldo’s fitness, but the Portuguese Football Federation is keeping close tabs on his recovery.