Juventus have sacked coach Andrea Pirlo after a single season in charge, the deposed Italian champions announced on Friday.
The club released a statement headlined “Good Luck, Andrea Pirlo” after a season in which Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates lost the Serie A title to Inter Milan and were eliminated in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“Pirlo has just begun the first steps of what will no doubt become a brilliant career as a coach,” Juventus’ statement read.
“An adventure of transformation, seeking, and often managing, to bring his ideas and his experience as a champion on the pitch from the ‘other side’ of the fence.”
The former midfielder, who enjoyed trophy-laden spells as a player at AC Milan and Juve, led the Turin giants to the Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup titles in his brief reign.
But Juve fell well short of their main goal of winning a first Champions League since 1996, being dumped out by Porto, and saw their bid for a 10th straight Scudetto finish with a whimper.
Juventus needed a victory at Bologna on the final day of the campaign, coupled with a slip-up from Napoli, just to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“My first season as a manager has ended,” Pirlo said on Instagram. “It has been an intense, complicated but in any case wonderful year.
“When I was called by Juventus I never thought about the risk I was taking, although it was quite evident. Respect for the colours of this shirt and the desire to get involved at the highest level for the project that was proposed to me prevailed.
“If I had to go back I would make exactly the same choice.”
– ‘Time to get back in the game’ –
Pirlo’s only previous coaching job had been with the Juve youth team.
“For the courage, the dedication, the passion with which he demonstrated every day, our thanks go to the Maestro, the coach and to Andrea, that really comes from the heart,” Juventus added.
Pirlo’s departure is widely expected to lead to the return of Massimiliano Allegri who led Juve to five straight Serie A titles between 2014 and 2019.
The 42-year-old, who won Serie A six times and the Champions League twice as a player, hinted that he wants to stay in coaching, but did not say where he would go next.
“This adventure, despite an unexpected ending, made it even clearer what I would like my future to be, which I hope will be just as complete and full of satisfactions as the one I experienced as a player,” said the 2006 World Cup winner.
“It’s time to get back in the game and face new challenges.”
The sacking adds to a series of departures of coaches at Europe’s leading clubs in a turbulent week.
Zinedine Zidane quit Real Madrid on Thursday after a rare trophyless season for the Spanish giants.
And Antonio Conte, who led Inter to their first Italian title for 11 years, left the club on Wednesday, reportedly in protest at the owners’ plans to sell the best players.
Mauricio Pochettino has also reportedly been contacted by Tottenham about a shock return to London, only months after joining Paris Saint-Germain, but a source close to the French club told AFP “nothing at all” should be read into the contact.