NEW YORK (AP) — Star midfielder Andrea Pirlo joined Major League Soccer’s New York City FC from Juventus on Monday, a little more than a month after winning a fifth consecutive Italian league title.
The 36-year-old playmaker arrives as a free transfer. He is the team’s third designated player, following David Villa and Frank Lampard. On July 21, Pirlo will join New York City, which is 5-8-5 and 15 points behind leader D.C. United.
“I have been wanting this experience for a long time and now that the opportunity materialized I wanted to take it,” he said on the New York club’s website. “This is a club on the rise and shares my same hunger to achieve important results in the league.”
Pirlo said he had “several opportunities” to play outside Italy but “never had a doubt” in selecting New York. He said he has met with coach Jason Kreis, who gave him a “fantastic impression” of the club.
“He has well defined ideas in mind, and I am sure we will get on well and create a good relationship to train well and try to win together,” Pirlo said.
Pirlo has spent his entire professional career in Italy. An exceptional passer, he has won two Champions League titles and six Italian league titles. He has made 115 appearances for Italy and was part of the 2006 World Cup-winning squad.
“Nobody could question that in Pirlo we are bringing one of the best in the world and one of the finest players to come to MLS,” Kreis said.
New York City FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna called Pirlo “one of the most recognized and influential players in world soccer.”
Pirlo spent four years at Juventus after joining from Serie A rival AC Milan, and helped it to the Champions League final this year. Juventus lost to Barcelona after having won the Italian Cup and the league title.
“It’s difficult to put what I feel into words, especially as it involves four such important years of my life,” Pirlo wrote on Twitter account. “I can only say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has accompanied and supported me in this adventure … A heartfelt thanks to all of you.”
Juventus said in a statement that it was an “honor and a privilege” to have had Pirlo on the team, adding: “Thanks for everything, Maestro, and good luck.”