Andrea Pirlo won’t look back at 2010 with too much fondness. The Milan midfielder had a tumultuous time. He made a cameo appearance at centre back in the second half of Milan’s round of 16 second leg demolition against Manchester united, was part of the Italy squad that were eliminated from the World Cup in disgrace and his 2010/11 season has been heavily disrupted by injuries to top things off.
His limited involvement was initially seen as a huge problem. Questions were asked about whether this Milan side without a creative midfield influence could maintain their momentum. The answers lay in dependency on Ibrahimovic and the Milan of the mediani – box to box midfielders. So far Milan has been able to remain at the top of the table, despite the regista’s absence.A hot topic for debate during the absence has been Andrea’s future. His contract expires at the end of the season and it is looking increasingly more likely that the renewal won’t arrive. His name has appeared on a near daily basis in the Italian press linking him with Juventus and Roma.
Adriano Galliani is trying to cut the wage bill with the onset of the financial fair play era. He isn’t keen to dish out salaries of over €4 million, so Pirlo would have to take a pay cut from his wage at the moment, which currently stands at €6 million a year.
In January Mark van Bommel arrived on a short term deal, and despite initial expectations that he would bludgeon all before him, he has provided a decent passing outlet from the base of the midfield. His contract will also expire in June but rumours of a renewal have been infinitely more positive. Couple this with the possible arrival of Paulo Henrique Ganso from Santos and room in the squad could be quickly disappearing.
In reality though, Andrea Pirlo is still one of the few world class players around in Italy at the moment. Even as he slowed down with age he is versatile enough to play anywhere in the centre of the pitch, something he proved by knuckling down to when asked to play on the left of the middle three by Max Allegri.
“Pirlo can play anywhere, not just in front of the defence, he is a central midfielder, he can play alongside Motta, and even as a trequartista. In my formation there are no set positions, even at Milan he has played well on the left hand side.”
Cesare Prandelli, Italian National Team Coach.
Even if the mediani provide you with energy and running, a player who can dictate the pace of the game and play the killer pass at the right moment is priceless. We should also take into account his ability to deliver a delicious set piece.
Despite only coming on against Sampdoria once the game was already won on Saturday night, Pirlo showed a glimpse of the quality he has. He showed elegant movement to create space for his team mates to pass and receive the ball in, and his composure when under pressure was superb.
There have been many calls for player turnover at Milan, often citing a high average squad age, but an injury free Andrea Pirlo will still have lots to give to the rossoneri and the national team for a couple of seasons more at least.