Ajax’s stunt leads to insight

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Monday, August 10, 2020 at

Juventus surprised friend and foe on Saturday by appointing Andrea Pirlo as the new trainer a few hours after the departure of Maurizio Sarri. The former midfielder had only coached the Under-23 for a few days, but the Italian superpower sees such a lot of potential in the former international that he is already ultimately responsible. Italian media is speculating about which big earners will leave, which players Pirlo has in mind and what the playing style will be. Pirlo has recognized at least one pain point: midfield. During the duels with Ajax in the Champions League last season, he came to the conclusion that change was necessary.

By Tim Siekman

“Pirlo does not have the correct papers yet, but he has received permission, because he has participated in the last trainer course. He will submit his thesis in October and then he will be a full-fledged coach”, says Renzo Ulivieri, president of the Associazione Italiana Allenatori. Calcio (AIAC, the Italian variant of the Coaches Paid Football), in conversation with Football. The sports director believes that Pirlo is currently one of the ‘deepest thinkers’ in global football and finds the appointment of the 41-year-old former international to be justified. “He knows more about the game than most of the trainers I’ve worked with for years,” continues Ulivieri. “He is eager to learn, always takes notes, knows what challenge lies ahead and is ready for it. Pirlo was a great footballer who breathed football. Whether it is a gamble? Andrea Agnelli (Juventus chairman, ed.) Has thought a lot about this. . “

Pirlo’s appointment came as a shock to many. “I would be lying if I said I was not surprised,” said Gianfranco Zola Sky Italy. The former playmaker and former assistant to Sarri at Chelsea is somewhat perplexed. “It is a striking choice. If this project succeeds, it will be a success story for the club. However, it is not an easy job, because at Juventus they not only want to win, but win in a certain way. A bold move by the club.” It will not be easy for Pirlo, but with the right support he can achieve success. ” Antonio Conte, trainer of competitor Internazionale, is also surprised. The coach has had Pirlo as a pupil at Juventus and the national team of Italy. “I am very happy for Andrea. He is an exceptional person and I really like him. Having said this, I feel old now that I see former players of mine becoming coaches now,” laughs Conte.

Which players come and go?
The Italian media speculate about the zipper of players who are ready for a departure the old lady. Among other The Gazzetta dello Sport in Tuttosport came up with a comprehensive list of players who may be out of service next season. President Agnelli has as a priority that the future of the club is safeguarded, both sportively and financially. Old-timers with little influence and a lot of salary can therefore make a transfer, while young blood must be added to the selection. Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuaín and Blaise Matuidi (who is going to Inter Miami) have most likely already played their last game for the national champions, while Danilo, Alex Sandro, Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Rugani, Aaron Ramsey, Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa also on the nomination insist on getting started elsewhere.

Conte: ‘I’m happy for Pirlo, but I feel a bit old now’
Pirlo has the least concerns about the positions in the center of the back and about the vanguard, it sounds in Italy. Juventus already has a dream duo for the future with youngsters Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral, while the club also has Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. At the front, Cristiano Ronaldo – if he stays – and Paulo Dybala are still out of the service and twenty-year-old winger Dejan Kulusevski, taken over from Parma, will join this summer. The pain points are mainly in the back positions and in the midfield. The club management has already hit the transfer market by picking Arthur Melo away from Barcelona in exchange for Miralem Pjanic. However, Pirlo, like the top of Juventus, is expected to be looking for young midfielders who will be the engine of the team in the coming years. Jorginho is no longer on the wish list. The midfielder worked at Napoli and Chelsea together with Sarri, but he is no longer in the picture due to the trainer change.

The first name that does come up is Sandro Tonali. The 20-year-old Brescia midfielder has been coveted by Juventus for months, but Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, ​​Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked to the three-time Italian international. Transfermarkt specialist Gianluca Di Marzio recently reported that Internazionale is close to the arrival of the controller, making it urgent for Juventus. A bell from Pirlo could possibly win over the top talent, nicknamed ‘the new Andrea Pirlo’, according to Italian reports. Manuel Locatelli, Sassuolo’s 22-year-old midfielder, would be the alternative. Nicolò Zaniolo would also be on the radar, but the recent takeover of AS Roma by The Friedkin Group does not rule out a longer stay of the midfielder in the Italian capital. Finally, a famous name from Spain is mentioned as a reinforcement for the midfield, namely Isco from Real Madrid.

Pirlo’s vision
In his autobiography I think, so I play Pirlo writes that as a trainer he would like to see his teams play dominant football, with the ball at the foot. Yet the former playmaker does not want to make defensive sacrifices in favor of the attacking game, as for example with Pep Guardiola and Gian Piero Gasperini. “In military terms, the success starts with the zone behind the lines. To put it more simply, the team with the fewest goals against wins the game,” said Pirlo, who does not stick to certain systems. In a live stream, he said in conversation with former teammate Fabio Cannavaro that a permanent line-up is not sacred. “It depends on the players of course, but I like 4-3-3, with a lot of people chasing forward. Lots of possession and lots of ball circulation. But if the players can’t play 4-3-3, you have to adapt. If you fixate on the system when the players can’t play it, you’re wasting valuable time and not getting the most out of the squad. “

From left to right: Nicolò Zaniolo, Isco and Sandro Tonali.

Pirlo also has an eye for the correct supply for the attackers. Perhaps Isco is the key. The midfielder of the Royal was recently passed through Mediaset already linked to a switch to Juventus. Now that Pirlo, who has long been an admirer of Isco, has taken over from Sarri, a transfer to Turin may be in the pipeline. In the confrontations between Juventus and Ajax in the quarter finals of the Champions League in 2018/19, Pirlo saw a major problem at Juventus as an analyst. Prior to the diptych, he did not see Ajax win against the ‘mighty’ Juventus, but after two matches it were the team from Amsterdam who were allowed to report in the semi-final battle. After the 1-2 home defeat against Ajax, the Italian was crystal clear about the loss at the top club from Turin. “To win the Champions League you need a player like Isco. Midfield is the key to everything. You have Cristiano, but you have to find a way to ignite him,” Pirlo said. Sky Italy.

Juventus is taking a new path with Pirlo, but it remains to be seen whether the former director is suitable as head coach in midfield. In his autobiography from 2014, he even indicated that he did not see himself as a coach. “I wouldn’t bet a single cent on the possibility of becoming a head coach. The position doesn’t appeal to me. You have too many headaches then.” Six years later, Pirlo is different. He is expected to be much stronger communicatively than Sarri, who, according to Italian media, had a difficult relationship with various players, including Ronaldo. Juventus is hoping for a scenario like Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid: an inexperienced trainer who immediately commands respect with his charisma and football knowledge and subsequently wins the Champions League three times. Former striker Alessandro Del Piero likes it completely. “The appointment is a surprise, also for me”, says the club legend Sky Italy. “The comparison with Zidane is not entirely fair, because Zizou already had experience as assistant to Carlo Ancelotti and with the youth. But Pirlo has everything it takes to do better than Zidane. He knows the club, the leadership and the players. ”




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