Italian Expert On Why Arsenal Need To Sign Andrea Pirlo
Arsenal target Andrea Pirlo’s demeanour, like his style of play, is never hurried but always spot on. So when one of Italy’s best players of his generation stated that he would be less than content with playing a secondary role at Juventus then the first alarm bells of a Turin exit began to ring.
Never one to speak out of turn, he still felt that maybe at the age of 34 there was a need to talk about his future at the Serie A champions where he has a contract until the end of the season. After all he had been instrumental in leading the Old Lady to two consecutive titles and could still be the fulcrum in making it a hat-trick.
However, there has been the thorny issue of whether the Juventus hierarchy have been clear in their intention to extend his current deal for another two years or leave him with just 12 months left and then a year older having to find another club. Such uncertainty hangs heavily over the pass master who has no thoughts of winding down at club level even though he will call it a day for Italy after next summer’s World Cup finals.
By then he should have overtaken Dino Zoff and moved into fourth overall in the number of caps for his country. His 105 appearances make him only the fifth player to have reached the century-mark for the Azzurri. He was named player of the match in the 2006 World Cup Final and was without doubt the stand-out performer at Euro 2012 where he broke England’s resistance in the penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final, with his dinked chip over Joe Hart.
That alone should have any club in the world alerted to his possible availability and his old mentor Carlo Ancelotti has already reportedly earmarked him to take over from Xabi Alonso at Real Madrid. It was Ancelotti who converted the then attacking midfielder into a deep-lying playmaker back in 2002, a year after he joined Milan from Inter, and certainly the studied approach to the game in La Liga would be tailor-made for Pirlo.
However, there is nothing to suggest that he could not adapt to the Premier League where he would still cover as much ground and provide the telling pass more times than the majority of those currently playing there. He continues to average around 75 passes a match with a 90% success rate and before the international break he fired home a trademark free-kick against his old club Milan.
He may be an artful supplier and dead-ball specialist but Pirlo’s work-rate and commitment have been equally impressive through the last decade where he’s contended with playing through a long club season including the latter stages of European competition before heading off to an international tournament for Italy.
In his most recent appearance in the Champions League, he covered 11,686 metres which was just 90 metres less than Juve’s midfield non-stop dynamo Arturo Vidal, against Galatasaray where he also supplied the cross for one of the goals in a 2-2 draw. There is little time to stand around in Serie A either where Antonio Conte demands his men play a high-intensity game inside the opposition half.
Pirlo has long demonstrated that he is no dancing dandy but a serious professional who does not like to feel short-changed when he has given his all. He has taken umbrage to early substitutions such as storming off down the tunnel when was taken off against Hellas Verona a few weeks ago and berated team-mates and referees in equal measure.
Then of course he has little time for sentimentality and thought nothing of donning the black and white stripes when Milan allowed him to leave in 2011, with little more than a thank you and a pen which they hoped against hope we would not use to sign a deal that would come back to haunt them.
Basically, since 2006, he could have gone anywhere and in his autobiography which will get its English launch next year, Pirlo reveals he could have been at Barcelona alongside Xavi and Iniesta or at PSG and tellingly he was very close to joining Ancelotti at Chelsea only for Silvio Berlusconi to veto the move.
Madrid may still remain the favoured destination if Juventus do not provide the comfort he is seeking but Tottenham or Arsenal could equally be clubs where he would settle quickly and where his evergreen skills could be of significant help to a younger generation of English-based players who may be willing students but less-versed in the subtle midfield arts.
Paul Pobga has put his acceleration from young hopeful to France international down to training and playing alongside the bearded maestro while Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has had Pirlo’s heir apparent Marco Veratti shadowing his chief architect at international get-togethers.
Such experience would be priceless for either of the North London clubs’ young stars who have impressed Italian pundits so far with their flair and attractive football whilst adapting their game to suit changing circumstances.
Pirlo has thrived when he has had speedy forwards, especially wide men to pick out with his deft chips in behind defences but if that element is missing then he has been equally content to move the ball forward in fluid stages, bringing in those around him with short passes.
Tottenham may feel they would hold an advantage as they already have Pirlo’s compatriot Franco Baldini as their director of football but Arsenal are the Premier League pace-setters so far, so Spurs need to be up there in the top four as the lure of the Champions League would more than likely be the overruling factor on where one of the game’s true greats is making that educated pass next season.