Andrea Pirlo would have “crawled to Barcelona on all fours” to join Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side in 2010.
According to the Italian’s autobiography, which is available in English from today, Guardiola approached Pirlo with the offer of joining Barca while the midfielder was at the Camp Nou with AC Milan for a pre-season tournament.
Guardiola had the midfielder secretly ushered into his office while the media were focused on Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was on the verge of leaving Barcelona for Milan.
“Taking advantage of the spotlight being momentarily trained not on him [Guardiola] but Ibrahimovic, he invited me into his office…I didn’t need to be asked twice. In I went,” wrote Pirlo.
“You could tell he wasn’t a man to beat about the bush. After a couple of minutes, he’d cut straight to the chase,” he added.
The 108-time capped Italian writes that he was in awe of the Barca coach and would have done anything to join the Spanish champions.
Guardiola revealed that an approach for his services had already been made to Milan which was rejected, but that the club planned to try again to secure his signature.
“During that half an hour I largely kept quiet and let him speak. I listened and, at most, nodded my head. I was so taken aback by the summons that my reflexes had slowed. I was more dazed than excited: shaken by the situation, but in a really positive way.
“As with Real Madrid (in fact, even more so than with Real Madrid), I’d have crawled to Barcelona on all fours.
“At that time, they were the best team in the world – what more needs to be said? Their brand of football hadn’t been seen in a long time; all little first-time passes and an almost insane ability to maintain possession.”
Guardiola told the now Juventus general that although his side’s midfield was already very strong with the likes of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, that he was looking for an additional player of Pirlo’s quality to complement those stars.
In the end, Milan refused to sell and Pirlo’s short-lived dream was dashed.
“The discussion went on for a while and, ultimately, Milan didn’t give in. I suppose it was always going to go like that. Back then, they still thought I had all my faculties and so they kept me, without ever getting involved in full-on negotiations. There were words, brief chats, a little bit of back and forth, but nothing more substantial.
“I’d have considered myself fortunate to be coached by Guardiola, because he really puts his stamp on teams, He builds them, moulds them, guides them, berates them, nurtures them. He makes them great. He takes them to a higher level; a place beyond mere football.”