Another aging European great was linked with a potential move to Major League Soccer last week, as Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo told La Gazzetta dello Sport that MLS could be an option whenever his time in Turin comes to a close.
"I won't stop playing; I'll go on as long as I have the same great desire to keep training every day," Pirlo, who was reportedly on the LA Galaxy's radar last year, said. "Juventus will be my last Serie A team, whatever happens. MLS could be an idea, but for the moment I don't have anything; Juve are the only thing on my mind."
Pirlo has been one of the world's finest midfielders in recent years, playing pivotal roles in championship sides at both AC Milan and Juventus since the early 2000s. Former Milan manager and current Real Madrid chief Carlo Ancelotti made Pirlo a focal point of his Milan teams that collected trophies in Serie A, UEFA Champions League and the Coppa Italia.
Since his move to Juventus in 2011, the Old Lady has won the Scudetto four years running, with Pirlo once again anchoring the midfield. He provided 13 assists in Juve's 2011-12 title run, and this season he has chipped in with five assists and four goals in 18 league appearances.
Seeing as how it's Monday afternoon, let's have some theoretical fun and look at how a player like Pirlo could fit in at Orlando City.
Unlike current OCSC midfielder Kaká, who also ascended to stardom in Italy's Serie A and spent time with Pirlo at Milan, Pirlo is at his best in a deep-lying position in the midfield. While Kaká thrives at the No. 10 position in the center of the pitch, "L'Architetto" pulls the strings from further back, using his otherworldly vision and ability to thread passes seemingly anywhere he wants to dissect opposition defenses.
Pirlo has never been blessed with great pace, but his ball control and ability to distribute – not to mention his elite ball-striking, which has made him one of the most dangerous free-kick takers in the sport – allow him to influence games without having to outrun anyone. The fact that his game is not overly reliant on athleticism means that the soon-to-be 36-year-old could still have several years of high-level contribution remaining in his career.
He controls the rhythm in midfield with aplomb, and a single through ball or an un-savable free kick from the Italian can still change a game in an instant.
It seems pretty obvious after the last several paragraphs that Pirlo could certainly fit in at Orlando City. In Adrian Heath's 4-2-3-1 alignment, Pirlo could slot next to Amobi Okugo or Darwin Cerén – who are more ball-winners in the defensive midfield than distributors – in the double-pivot, providing a quarterback to orchestrate the attack for the Lions from deep in the midfield.
Heath's style is possession-based and relies on quality passing, which Pirlo can provide in spades.
So, yes, it would be tantalizing to add a player like Pirlo to the mix in Orlando, but the MLS rumors haven't even escalated beyond "an idea" at this point, and that doesn't even take into account whether or not Orlando could work Pirlo into its roster under the MLS salary cap/Designated Player rules – and who knows how long Kaká will stick around? It's feasible that the team could transition from the Brazilian to the Italian without affecting the books.
But, with MLS becoming an increasingly attractive option for European stars (and Monday afternoons being notoriously dull), it's always interesting to look at possibilities regarding these transfer links.
What do you think? Would Pirlo make an exciting addition to the Lions?