New York City FC’s media release to confirm the signing of Andrea Pirlo is what you’d expect: “delighted to announce” … “club on the rise” … “one of the best in the world” … enthusiasm of the fans … great coach, etc. All that’s missing is the keyword “project.”
So much for the hello. Juventus, meanwhile, had me at “goodbye.” It’s been obvious for a while that the 36-year-old would be heading to Yankee Stadium to become a vital component of NYCFC’s bid to get the average age of their team up towards the coveted “mid-thirties” demographic. During that time, though, is former club has evidently been crafting a farewell that isn’t so much a press release as a love letter, one with the kind of purple prose you rarely see outside missives by horny English literature students.
“Thanks for everything, Maestro,” the story’s headlined.
The mercurial midfielder represents the beginning and, until now, the progression of a cycle that has seen the Bianconeri return to the top tale of football in Italy and Europe. His visionary passing, pinpoint assists, spectacular goals and masterful free-kicks have been instrumental in the club’s continued rise.
Mercurial? That’s defined by Merriam-Webster as “changing moods quickly and often” – which is about the one thing you wouldn’t associate with him. Anyway, Pirlo scored 19 goals for Juventus “each one a thing of beauty, each one a jewel in his Juve crown …
Pirlo is a player – a man – who could never be summed up with mere statistics. Pirlo is silent charisma, the steadying hand in the middle of the park, the dummy that undoes the opposition defence. He’s that unexpected ball that splits the game wide open, the lofted pass that brings a team to its knees.
And makes club media departments weak at the knees too, evidently.
They’re even pushing a special hashtag: #weareimpressed, a reference to last year’s Pirlo Is Not Impressed campaign, which pretty much is self-explanatory. It’s OK, Juve, you don’t have to give him a cheesy farewell hashtag. He ditched you, after all.
Per NYCFC, Pirlo will join the club on July 21, meaning his debut could come five days later at Yankee Stadium against Orlando City, assuming he can beat out Mehdi Ballouchy for a place in the line-up.
Frank Lampard, meanwhile, is expected to make his NYCFC bow on Sunday at home to Toronto FC (ease him in gently).