Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo believes the absence of coach Antonio Conte has hurt his side this season.
The 43-year-old was handed a 10-month ban at the start of the season for his failure to report instances of match-fixing during his spell in charge of Siena, which was later reduced to four months.
Pirlo is glad that Conte is on the verge of a return, with Juventus holding a two-point lead atop Serie A.
“We miss Conte a lot on the bench, especially at half-time. He always has a word for everybody, and can turn a match around with his tactical changes,” Pirlo told Tuttosport.
“Fortunately, his ban is almost over. It’s only one more week. He really is an exceptional coach. He’s always well prepared and is capable of transmitting his philosophy to the team.”
Meanwhile, the influential midfielder said Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Marco Verratti was his natural heir.
“Verratti is quite similar to me. He’s a great player. We must give him time to develop and let him make mistakes in order to improve. I see him as my heir,” Pirlo said.
Verratti, 20, joined PSG from Pescara in the off-season and has been one of the revelations this campaign.