Former Italy and Juventus star Andrea Pirlo was yesterday named as the Italian champions’ new coach, just hours after Maurizio Sarri’s (right) sacking. Sarri, 61, leaves Juventus after just one season, a day after the Turin giants crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 to French club Lyon.
The 41-year-old Pirlo, who has no previous top-level coaching experience, has signed a two-year contract until June 2022. He had recently been appointed coach of the Juventus U-23 side, who play in the third division.
“Pirlo has had a legendary career as a player, winning everything from the Champions League to the World Cup in 2006,” Juventus said.
“In his four years at the centre of the Juventus midfield, Pirlo won as many league titles, a Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups. Today, begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football, as it was said almost a week ago: from Maestro to Mister. Today’s choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes.”
Pirlo began his playing career at his hometown team Brescia in 1995 and went on to play for Inter, AC Milan and Juve from 2011 before moving in 2015 for two seasons with New York City FC in the MLS. During his four seasons with Juventus he won Serie A four times and one Italian Cup. Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo was a key figure in the team that won the 2006 World Cup. He also won two Champions Leagues and two league titles with Milan during his 22-year playing career.
Meanwhile, Sarri paid for the Italian team’s premature Champions League exit. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 2-1 home win on Friday night, but Juve crashed out on away goals to Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 this season.
Juventus president Andrea Agnelli said the club would “take a few days to make assessments”, but the axe fell swiftly. Sarri took over on a three-year deal last season promising a revolution on the pitch after leading Chelsea to the Europa League trophy.
The Italian champions were looking for a new direction to transfer their domestic league dominance into a first European title since 1996. The stakes were high for Juventus who spent big to bolster their supporting cast around five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo.
Ronaldo was poached in 2018 from Real Madrid, while former Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt signed last summer — the pair joining from teams that knocked the Italians out of Europe the previous two seasons. But the former Napoli boss in the end never managed to impose his style and paid the price as Juve failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2016. The chain-smoking Sarri, who worked his way up through the lower leagues in Italy to win his first league title with Juventus, was an odd fit. His predecessor Massimiliano Allegri won five league titles in as many seasons and reached the Champions League final twice.
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