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Thursday October 11 2012
Time to push out Pirlo

As Italy touch down in Yerevan ahead of their qualifier against Armenia, Alex Mott looks at why Andrea Pirlo should call it a day for the Azzurri.

Shakhtar Donetsk boss Mircea Lucescu perhaps put it best. “I am convinced that, with all he has done last year in the League and for Italy, he deserves to win the Ballon d'Or.” Calcio fans have been banging on about it for years, but 2011-12 was the season that Andrea Pirlo showed the wider world he was utterly irresistible.

Vision, pin-point passing and a mastery of set-pieces, the Juventus man owned Serie A last season – contributing 13 assists to the Bianconeri's unbeaten campaign, and bagging three vital goals along the way. Antonio Conte made him the fulcrum of the side and reaped the rewards. Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli followed the same model at Euro 2012, and was equally blessed with a run all the way to the Final.

The 33-year-old was arguably player of the tournament at Poland and Ukraine, demonstrating to fans across Europe he was the game's ultimate puppet-master, the creative hub, the key cog in the Azzurri's machine. Why then, is it time for him to be ousted from the national side?

Age is a funny thing in football. One minute you're deemed a veteran of the side – reliable and with a been-around-the-block assurance. The next, you're past it with a sorry glint in your eye and a slow limp to the pundits' chair.

It seems almost blasphemous to say it about one of the best players of this generation, but Pirlo is well on his way to the ex-pro retirement home. A double-shift of Champions League and Scudetto commitments seemed to have taken it out of the former Milan maestro, and his performances this term have been the proof in a soggy, bitter pudding.

Cesare Prandelli has given his unbridled commitment to the Lombardy-born regista as they try to qualify for Brazil 2014, but perhaps the former Fiorentina boss should take some advice from Carlo Ancelotti. “Italy can relax for the next World Cup,” he told Corriere dello Sport. “As they already have an alternative to Pirlo and his name is Marco Verratti.”

The 19-year-old has been stunning for Paris Saint-Germain so far this season. His unexpected rise to prominence for Les Parisien has been surprising to say the least, but the former Pescara man has shown just why the Ligue 1 side splashed €12m on a relatively unknown midfielder. Assured on the ball, instinctive in possession and clinical with his pass, the teenager has shown, in just three months for his new side, what all the fuss was about.

Thiago Motta has lavished praise on the youngster. The greats of the Italian game have eulogised about this guy's talent. Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic thinks he's pretty good.

The Azzurri boss has waxed lyrical since the Euros about trusting young talent, blooding in inexperienced players ahead of the World Cup. Antonio Cassano has been dropped for the games against Armenia and Denmark, with goal-less Mattia Destro in his place. Emanuele Giaccherini has been picked despite not playing for Juventus. These players, rightly or wrongly, are getting their chance. Now is the time for Pirlo to step aside and let PSG's young starlet shine.

If you're good enough, you're young enough. Marco Verratti is 19 – and very, very good.

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Have your say...
No Pirlo ????who we kidding who ever thinks this take your head out of your A--
Verratti is a great young player but and i said but is nowhere near the master like Pirlo so i say bring them both.
Forza Azzurri
on the 14th November, 2012 at 5:25am
LOL....biggest joke I ever heard. I quit watching football if either Prandelli or Conte take your advise.& of course they will say NO. Nonsense writer.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:51pm
Trash column writer needs to quit
on the 17th October, 2012 at 10:41pm
Push Pirlo out! Did you see his performance against Denmark pssst!
on the 17th October, 2012 at 12:58pm
Good call after last night's performance.
on the 17th October, 2012 at 8:41am
Italy 3 - 1 armenia Pirlo scores one, Pirlo assists one..... Italy 3 - 1 denmark Pirlo assits two..... Andrea Pirlo is Italy's best player, and he will be are best player as long as he still keeps playing..... FACT!
on the 16th October, 2012 at 11:50pm
Seemed fine tonight, didn't he...

Ridiculous blog.
on the 16th October, 2012 at 9:41pm
3 5 2 with pirlo , marchisio and verrati .
on the 15th October, 2012 at 3:11pm
the fact is there is nobody better at the moment and most probably there wont be one by world cup 2014 . he does not have allot of running to do and once he continues to pass like that he will be ok .
on the 15th October, 2012 at 3:05pm
you should be pushed out off football italia mr mott for writing this nonsense .
on the 15th October, 2012 at 3:01pm
What is up with the writers of football italia all of a sudden? The Roma game cancellation article by labbate and now this? Forget claims that this site is pro one team or another, these articles have just been irrational.
on the 13th October, 2012 at 4:19pm
worst article i have ever read.

if pirlo is off point this year it is because juventus need to rest him when possible and not overplay him.

pirlo not at his best, is still italys best midfielder and the fact he can have a poor game and still win a match with a single free kick or pass demonstrates his class and importance to italy.
on the 13th October, 2012 at 3:00pm
Time to NOT push out Pirlo.

Today vs Armenia was all Pirlo.
on the 13th October, 2012 at 12:57am
Terrible Article this writer should be sacked, Pirlo is good for 1 more world cup
on the 12th October, 2012 at 9:33pm
Pirlo and Verratti need to be fielded together for the next matches. Two fantastic players like them can easily find their positions on the pitch. I would go for a 3-4-3 formation with a midfield diamond, Pirlo at the lower, Verratti and the Upper end. Add De Rossi and Marchisio at their flanks and you have the perfect midfield for the time being. Once Pirlo is really ready for retirement, Verratti can move backwards and Insigne take his position behind the forwards.
on the 12th October, 2012 at 2:30pm
Unbelievable assessment. Pirlo was arguably the player of the tornament at the Euros and someone says we should call time on his Italy career? He has to be at least in the top 5 for ballon d'or after the past 12 months. Milan thought he was a surplus and his exit was the demise of the Rossoneri. Verratti should be eased in - not thrown in at the deepend.
Terrible article Alex

p.s. It's if you're good enough you're old enough. SMH
on the 12th October, 2012 at 12:29pm
I'm sure that Veratti is the future. He's an excellent player with a mature head on his shoulders. It's a pity that Juve missed out on having him train with San Pirlo, but I think it's important that he learns something from him with the national side.
An aging, exhausted Pirlo is still better than most midfielders in the world right now so he's being written off prematurely. Another typically hysterical media reaction will subside as the season progresses and Pirlo performs yet more miracles...
on the 12th October, 2012 at 11:25am
DiRocco-A lot of Juve' fan's are still sore on missing out on Verratti. They manifest their ill feelings by downplaying the players ability, performances, & the league in which he plays. They act like a bitter lover that's been jilted. To find solace, they make ridiculous claims, making out that both Pogba & Marrone are superior. These players are good, but Verratti, IMO, is much more gifted.

Note that I didn't say ALL Juve' fans, just the childish ones; and to those I say, get over it!
on the 12th October, 2012 at 9:12am
Pirlo is far from past it! The only problem he has right now, is that he is playing too much football. His coaches need to manage him more effectively. Playing him against the likes of Siena & Malta is a little foolish, when you have such a grueling schedule.

Both Verratti and De Rossi can cover Pirlo's position and give the Juve' man a deserved breather.

Verratti is a gem of a player. In performances, so far this season, I have seen glimpses of Pirlo, Pizarro, Riquelme, & Zidane.
on the 12th October, 2012 at 8:53am
I think pirlo can obviously still bring it, bu that's not the point, the point is he can't bring it every single game especially at this high rate of playing and we need the youths to step up cause by the next world cup pirlo will be rather old and so its just logical to play verratti as much as possible till then so he gets better.In the serie a its rather simple rest him in the not so big games for pogba hes more than capable too.
on the 12th October, 2012 at 8:15am
Ridiculous article!

Yes, lets kick out the man who kept us in Euro 2012 against England!

The man steps up to the mark and leads like a true champion when times are tough. I am just sorry Milan sold him...
on the 12th October, 2012 at 7:54am
Verrati cannot follow Pirlo's footstep until he plays in Serie A. Playing in Ligue 1 is not the ideal way to be the next regista in Azzuri. In Italy there is the Grinta, tight spaces, tough defense, roughness and different mental tactics.
on the 12th October, 2012 at 7:33am
As a Juventino, if Pirlo is rested, I would be happy, I don't care if Maggio plays regista.
on the 12th October, 2012 at 6:17am
Pirlo is being written off too soon. He has only had a few mediocre matches this season. He is still the best passer in the Italian squad and without him, Italy and Juve lack a player who can dictate the play.

Verratti is a talented player and deserves a call-up for the Italian team. He shouldn't be directing the play now for Italy because he is still untested in big matches and Pirlo still has value. He isn't hopeless like Cannavaro was in defence post-2006.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 11:57pm
I dont think Pirlo has had it yet hes still got years in him but i do think he needs to slow down, between Serie A, Champions League and the World Cup qualifiers, he needs a couple of younger players to start playing for example against Armenia start Verratti instead of Pirlo and in Serie A against teams like Siena and Pescara start Pogba or Marrone so that Pirlo gets a rests because hes not young anymore. Pirlo should win the Ballon d'Or and if he doesnt then Ill be disappointing.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 9:53pm
I dont think Pirlo has had it yet hes still got years in him but i do think he needs to slow down, between Serie A, Champions League and the World Cup qualifiers, he needs a couple of younger players to start playing for example against Armenia start Verratti instead of Pirlo and in Serie A against teams like Siena and Pescara start Pogba or Marrone so that Pirlo gets a rests because hes not young anymore. Pirlo should win the Ballon d'Or and if he doesnt then Ill be disappointing.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 9:52pm
W.hilst I like the idea of bringing some youngsters tbrough I also believe there is room for older players. Mny players have a perfect final season prior to going downhill rapidly. Not suggesting this with Pirlo. As long as he is in form he should be in the squad this would give the youngsters a chance to learn from Pirlo
on the 11th October, 2012 at 9:17pm
Pirlo has been excellent this season, slightly lower than phenomenal as he was last season. So... retire him! Give me a break.

You know, lots of players who went all the way at the Euros have not hit their best form yet this season, yet because of Pirlo's age this is singled out at signaling his "decline".

Pirlo is still easily Italy's best in that position.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 8:34pm
How many times have we seen it both at club & international level. Players were considered too old & fragile for the game, & after their departure, that very same club & country struggled & had journalists calling for the veterans to return.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 7:14pm
This article belongs in the bin!!
on the 11th October, 2012 at 7:12pm

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