Andrea Pirlo names his Premier League XI for this season
Andrea Pirlo is a man who is loved universally. The Italian midfield maestro has split many defences with his majestic passing and has effortlessly dictated the pace of the game whenever and wherever he has played.
Pirlo is currently playing in the MLS for New York City FC and it is a huge loss for English fans and Premier League fans worldwide that he never graced the Premier League. Pirlo sauntering along at his own pace among the hustle and bustle of English football would have been a fascinating sight to watch.
Pirlo, however, is a self-proclaimed fan of the Premier League and in a recent interview with ShortList, Pirlo picked his Premier League best XI for the current season.
The ‘thinking man’s footballer’ picked a conservative 4-5-1 formation finding space for two of Chelsea’s veterans who have not had their best seasons this year. Manchester City and Arsenal players unsurprisingly feature prominently. However, high-flying Leicester, Tottenham and English giants Manchester United find no representation in his team.
Here is Pirlo’s XI:
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
The Italian legend picked Joe Hart to be his team’s custodian. The Manchester City shot-stopper has been consistent for a long time and the England international’s solid performances have prompted Pirlo to pick him as his No.1.
Pirlo was quoted as saying:
"There are many good goalkeepers in England, but I think Joe has proved what a leader he is as well. He gets a lot of praise from [Gianluigi] Buffon, and if you are getting praise from the greatest ever then you are doing something very right."
Defence: Ivanovic – Kompany – Terry – Monreal
Pirlo picked a slightly surprising back four picking Chelsea defenders Ivanovic and Terry along with Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal.
Ivanovic looked woeful at the beginning of the season while John Terry has had his own share of struggles this season. However, Pirlo backed both of them saying:
"He [Ivanovic] came under some criticism at the start of the season, but it wasn’t just him but Chelsea as a team who were not playing well. Now he looks back to his best, and that means one of the best full-backs in Europe."
"You get players like Maldini for Milan who are so much more than a man on the field, they are part of the club. These are the types of player that are impossible to replace." Terry might be departing the club this summer, but clearly Pirlo thinks he still has a huge role to play at Chelsea.
Vincent Kompany has been the rock in Manchester City’s defense and his recent spell on the sidelines have only highlighted how important the Belgian is to his team.
For the left-back position, Pirlo went on to pick one of the unsung heroes in Arsenal’s Premier League campaign this season – Nacho Monreal. When asked on his choice to pick the Spaniard, Pirlo said:
"I like to watch Arsenal, and sometimes players don’t get the credit because you just expect them to always do a good job. Every time I have seen him play this season he has been faultless."
Midfield: De Bruyne – Coutinho – Yaya Toure – Ozil – Sanchez
The midfield picked by Pirlo looks really formidable with two Manchester City players and two Arsenal players making the team. Coutinho is the only player from Liverpool to make Pirlo’s XI and the talented Brazilian is in some truly illustrious company.
De Bruyne has been in stunning form for City this season. The Belgian play maker has been linking City’s play brilliantly this season and has already bagged a handful of goals and assists in this Premier League campaign.
Yaya Toure has blown hot and cold this season, however, Pirlo still believes that the big Ivorian has it in him to influence games single-handedly. Pirlo said about Yaya Toure:
"Maybe not as consistent as he once was, but can still dominate a game. I told Paul [Pogba] that Yaya and [Patrick] Vieira are the two players he should try and replicate, and he can."
Mesut Ozil has shown why Arsene Wenger paid such a big sum to secure his services. The German has been at his creative best and he leads the leaderboard in the number of assists provided in the Premier League this season.
The Chilean Alexis Sanchez has been absolutely vital for Arsenal ever since he made the move from Camp Nou to the Emirates. Pirlo suggested that the move he made might have helped him rediscover his form.
"It is easy not to get the credit you deserve at Barcelona because of [Lionel] Messi, and now Neymar and [Luis] Suarez, but Sanchez has shown at Arsenal how good he is. They have made him the focal point of their attack and he is repaying their faith."
Striker: Sergio Aguero
Aguero is considered to be one of the best forwards in Europe and Pirlo pretty much echoed the same sentiment when he spoke about the Manchester City forward.
"Just one of the best strikers in the world, despite some injury problems. When he is fit and in the team, Manchester City look another class to everybody else in England." Manchester City will be hoping Aguero remains fit for the remainder of the season as they battle for top honours in four competitions.
Players like Mahrez, Vardy and Harry Kane are surprisingly omitted by the Italian legend but the XI he has picked is a pretty formidable team to say the least.