Juventus Coach Antonio Conte would “give the Ballon d’Or to Andrea Pirlo. May God keep him safe!”
The veteran midfielder is the only Italian to be on the long-list for the World Player of the Year award, though Cristiano Ronaldo is the favourite ahead of Franck Ribery and Leo Messi.
“It is difficult to choose between Messi and Ronaldo, but I would always give the Ballon d’Or to Pirlo,” Conte told Verissimo.
“He is our player and may God keep him safe!”
Pirlo will be out of contract at the end of the season, but Conte has made it clear he would like the player to remain in Turin beyond June 2014.
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.