Juventus and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo is the subject of contact from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur regarding a move to the English side next season, says former Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli.
Vialli made the comments on Sky Sports Italia on Sunday evening, which saw Pirlo inspire Juventus to a 3-2 victory over AC Milan in Serie A.
John Edwards of the Daily Mail reports:
Tottenham are lining up a bold move for Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo, according to former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli.
Sportsmail revealed last month how Spurs had been alerted to growing uncertainty over Pirlo’s Juventus future and a growing belief he may be ready to quit the Turin giants and test himself in England or Spain.
The North London club appear to have followed up their initial interest and begun exploring the possibility of landing him on a free transfer at the end of the season, following a claim by Vialli on Sky Italia on Sunday.
Having been allowed to leave on a free transfer by Milan in 2011, the 34-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a fine couple of seasons in Turin, where he has won back-to-back Serie A titles.
However, reports last month—such as this separate report from Edwards—revealed Juventus are hesitating over whether to hand the regista a new contract. The prospect of a January exit was even raised.
Pirlo, though, remains an important figure for both Antonio Conte's Juventus side and the Italian national team under Cesare Prandelli. He has started eight fixtures for his club this season, including both Champions League games, and would be a significant loss should he depart.
For Tottenham, who have plentiful depth in the centre of midfield, the capture of Pirlo would add diversity to their ranks.
At present, Spurs have many powerful midfielders—either in a box-to-box role or as the central anchor. However, they do lack a deep-lying playmaker of Pirlo's mould. His arrival would likely place into doubt the future of Brazilian Sandro.
Per ESPNFC's Ben Gladwell, Pirlo hinted at a possible departure to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in August:
I'm definitely going to carry on playing, but we'll have to see where. I've already spoken to my club, and we will decide at the end of the season. My priority is Juve, but I don't want to be a burden on anybody.
The years go by and there's nothing that says that I have to stay just because I'm Pirlo. I want to feel I'm important and crucial to the side's success, otherwise I'll leave.
However, despite the midfielder's desire to feel important, Juventus are not looking to go out of their way to secure his stay at the club.
Per Gladwell, quoting Tuttosport (Italian), club general manager Beppe Marotta said last week:
There is no issue with Pirlo at all. At the end of the day, Pirlo has not done anything untoward. We’ve spoken with him (over a new contract), serenely, and we said that we’ll talk again in February or March.
According to Vialli, Tottenham are looking to capitalise on that delay and see Pirlo make a move to England in what will be the final years of his career.
Spurs will not be alone in doing so, but as James Horncastle noted only this week, per ESPNFC, the midfielder has already stated that he would not be content with a part-time role.
I'll go on the bench. Everyone has to catch their breath, above all in an intense season like this. But if you're asking me whether I'd accept a project in which I had to play only 20 games then I'd say I don't like this proposal. I'll finish [my career] playing, not watching the others play.
Whether Spurs, or any interested party in the Premier League, can offer such guarantees remains to be seen, but there will be undoubted desire on behalf of supporters in England to see the Italian in Premier League action.
Nothing is yet decided regarding the 104-cap international's future, but it is Tottenham who are seemingly taking a proactive approach by making him feel wanted. Given his desire for importance, it could be an important factor in swinging any eventual decision in their favour.