Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Too soon for a Milan Scudetto challenge, Pirlo claims

SoccerNews in Serie A 27 Jul 2017

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Andrea Pirlo feels qualifying for the Champions League, not winning the Scudetto, is a realistic objective for the new-look AC Milan.

The Rossoneri have made significant outlays in the off-season transfer market, bringing in Andre Silva and Leonardo Bonucci from Porto and Juventus respectively, among a host of other recruits.

That has led some observers to claim Vincenzo Montella’s team, who finished sixth last season, are now capable of challenging for their first title since 2010-11. 

But Pirlo, a Serie A winner with both Milan and Juventus, considers that assessment optimistic. 

“Will Milan fight for the Scudetto? I don’t think so,” he told La Repubblica.

“When you’re starting from zero and [sign] 10 new players, they can be as good as you want, it’s still difficult to win straight away.

“You have to get them to play together, to fit well together on the pitch. Montella has a difficult but stimulating job. Their goal is to reach the Champions League.”

The coup of luring Italy defender Bonucci away from Juve was a major statement of intent from Milan, the 30-year-old having reportedly fallen out with Bianconeri coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Coincidentally, Pirlo was allowed to leave Milan when Allegri was in charge at San Siro, the deep-lying playmaker subsequently guiding Juve to four successive Serie A titles before departing for MLS franchise New York City FC. 

“Bonucci will give Milan great charisma, personality and international experience, while Juventus will miss his technique and his ability to play the ball,” he said.

“I don’t know what happened between them, but I left Milan because I was at the end of my contract and I wanted a new adventure. It was nothing to do with Allegri.

“I didn’t change through any fault of his, I could have stayed at Milan too but I felt that a cycle was finished.”

Despite losing Bonucci, Pirlo believes Allegri’s side remain the favourites to win what would be a seventh consecutive Scudetto.

“Juve are still the team to beat,” he said.

“They’ve strengthened with Douglas Costa, [Federico] Bernardeschi and [Wojciech] Szczesny and now they’ll take someone else.

“Every year people say it’s the turn of Napoli, Roma and others, then we see how it goes.”

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