TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – Juventus have sacked coach Andrea Pirlo after one season and replaced him with Massimiliano Allegri, who returns to Turin for a second spell in charge at the club, the Serie A side said in a statement on Friday.
Pirlo was appointed last year with no previous coaching experience and could only lead reigning Serie A champions Juventus to fourth place this season.
Allegri, who won five Serie A titles in a row in his first spell in Turin between 2014 and 2019 as well as lifting the Coppa Italia four times and finishing as Champions League runners-up twice, returns to Juve having not coached since.
“For the courage, the dedication, the passion with which he demonstrated every day, our thanks go to the Maestro, the Coach and to Andrea, that really comes from the heart,” Juventus said in a statement.
“Allegri finds a bench that he knows very well, a club that he loves and that loves him back, as today a new journey begins together, towards new goals.
“What he achieved in his first adventure at Juventus is engraved in the club’s history. And now we are ready to begin again with Allegri, to build our future together.”
Pirlo, a former Juventus and Italy midfielder, started his first season in charge of a senior side looking to make it 10 successive Serie A titles for Juve, but he struggled from the start.
Juve headed into the final day of the season facing the prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2011-12, but victory over Bologna saw them scrape in.
“It’s been an intense, complicated year but still wonderful. When I got the call from Juventus, I never thought about the risk I was taking,” Pirlo said.
“If I had to go back I would make the exact same choice again, although aware of all the obstacles I encountered in such a difficult time for everyone, which prevented me from better planning my intentions and my style of play.
“This adventure, despite an unexpected ending, made it even clearer what I would like my future to be, which I hope will be just as complete and fulfilling as the one I experienced as a player.”
While Pirlo did manage to win the Coppa Italia by beating Atalanta this month, Juve’s league position, coupled with a second successive Champions League last-16 exit, put the coach’s job in danger.
Italian media reported that Juve accelerated their interest in Allegri as other high-profile coaching roles became available around Europe, with Real Madrid and Inter Milan changing managers and Paris St Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino linked with an exit.
(Reporting by Peter Hall, additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)