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Allegri returns to coach Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri has returned to Juventus after the Turin giants sacked coach Andrea Pirlo following a single season in charge, the deposed Italian champions announced on FridayAllegri

 

“Welcome back home, Max!” Juventus said in a tweet to announce the re-appointment of Allegri who won five straight Serie A titles with the club between 2014 and 2019.

“Now we are ready to begin again with Allegri, to build our future together; with his enormous professionalism, his moral strength, with the brilliant ideas of a coach capable of shuffling the cards, both on and off the pitch,” Juventus said in a statement.

The 53-year-old led Juve to four consecutive league and cup doubles with Italian Cup triumphs in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

But Allegri fell agonisingly short in the Champions League, losing to Barcelona in the 2015 final and to Real Madrid in the showpiece match two years later.

He will be tasked with leading the Bianconeri back to the top of the Italian game, after they finished below champions Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atalanta this season.

It will be Allegri’s first job since leaving Juve two years ago, with Maurizio Sarri also having lasted just one term, in 2019-20.

He had also been linked with the Real Madrid job, but that remains vacant after Zinedine Zidane’s resignation on Thursday.

Pirlo was dismissed after a season in which Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates lost the Serie A title to Inter 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 said.

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 failed in 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 had to rely on 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.”

Pirlo’s only previous coaching job had been with the Juve youth team.

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 coaching departures at Europe’s leading clubs in a turbulent week.

Apart from Zidane’s exit, 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.

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