On the fag end of a glorious career, legendary footballer, Andrea Pirlo has come out with his autobiography, ‘ I Think Therefore I Play’ , where he reveals how he almost signed for Chelsea to play under Carlo Ancelotti in the summer of 2009.
Talking about the summer transfer window of 2009, Andrea Pirlo revealed how he had reached a personal agreement with Chelsea to play under Ancelotti but a move to London was prevented by Berlusconi who forced the Italian to stay put at Milan.
It was August 2009 and I’d reached agreement with Chelsea, the club where Ancelotti had just come in as manager.
Carlo was like a father and a teacher for me, a kind, friendly man who knew how to make things fun.
I’d spent the best years of my career with him. If you’re a player who wants to get on and give everything, you won’t find anyone better than him.
Carlo Ancelotti was my motivation for agreeing to head to London. But, in the meantime, Berlusconi had pulled out a second piece of paper.
Pirlo reveals how he was forced to stay back at AC Milan by Berlusconi who apparently tried to lure the Italian by revealing that he had signed Dutch international Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Pirlo talks about the Dutch strike who, though he had a lot of potential, was not someone who according to Pirlo would ever win the Balon d’Or.
This time there were loads of names with ticks next to them, and one that had been circled. ‘Stay. We’ve signed Huntelaar’. Huntelaar…
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is an excellent player. He knows how to score goals, loads of goals and, at that point in time, he was playing for Real Madrid. But he’s not the type of guy who’s going to win the Ballon d’Or.
‘We could have brought in other guys, people like Claudio Pizarro, but we chose him.’ Huntelaar…
Though Pirlo was keen to join Ancelotti at Chelsea, he was asked to stay back at Milan as the club could not afford to lose another star midfielder following Kaka’s departure to Madrid. Though Ancelotti was still keen on signing Pirlo, AC Milan, according to Pirlo, brought the negotiations to an end by asking for ‘too much money’.
‘Listen, Andrea, you just can’t do this, damn it. You’re the symbol of Milan, a standard bearer for this team, and we’ve already sold Kaká. You can’t jump ship as well. It’d be a terrible blow, to our image as much as anything. We can’t have everyone leaving.’
Ancelotti and I spoke a fair bit on the phone. He wanted to bring me to London at all costs, and cost was indeed the last hurdle still to be overcome. Insurmountable, as it transpired.
Milan wanted too much cash, and they were also pushing for Branislav Ivanovic to be included in the deal. Chelsea hadn’t the slightest intention of letting the defender go.
The midfielder reveals in his autobiography how he was lured in by a four year contract at Chelsea but apparently Berlusconi convinced him that he could achieve the same at Milan.
‘Mr President, I really like all this talk of being a standard bearer. But my contract here is about to run out, and those guys are offering me four years.’
At five million euros a season. It wasn’t money that had convinced me, more the length of the deal. That’s always very important.
‘Where’s the problem, Andrea? You can sort all that out with Galliani, can’t you? Take it as read.’
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he shot out of the room to tell the media: ‘Andrea Pirlo is not for sale. He’s staying with Milan and he’ll finish his career right here.’
As it turned out, I moved to Juventus. That’s Berlusconi all over, though. He’s theatrical and knows exactly what he wants. It’s what makes him such a fantastic president and lover of pure, beautiful football.