Pirlo backs Gerrard to thrive in deeper role

Liverpool have used the 33-year-old midfielder in a withdrawn role this season, and the Juventus playmaker has backed his English counterpart to make a successful transition

By Thomas Unsworth

Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo has backed Steven Gerrard to adapt his game and play on at the top level until his late 30s.

Pirlo, who will be 35 in May, has helped Juventus to two consecutive Serie A titles since moving to Turin on a free transfer in 2011 from AC Milan, and was a key member of the Italy squad that got to the Euro 2012 final.

Gerrard, 33, has been used in a deeper role by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers this season, with more of a focus on dictating the play with passes from the base of midfield as opposed to a more advanced positioning.

And Pirlo, who has tailored his game since leaving Milan, believes intelligent players like the England international have the wherewithal to prolong their careers.

“As a player you get to the stage where you realise that you are not 25 any more – and can’t play the way you used to,” Pirlo told Goal.

“The intelligent players adapt – and Steven Gerrard has the ability to do that. He is an excellent passer of the ball, possesses an intelligent football brain, and has great vision. He might not be able to run around for 90 minutes any more, but he has all the qualities to play a deeper role.”

Gerrard missed the end of last season with a shoulder injury but his fitness and conditioning have been carefully managed by Liverpool in recent years, and Pirlo believes that will be vital in his remaining years as a professional.

“Top European clubs are always progressing with what they can do off the field,” he added. “Training is getting more scientific, and we are constantly getting more educated on nutrition.

“If you look after yourself and are willing to adapt – there is no reason why you can’t play at the top level until your late 30s.

“Gerrard is a top professional, it is very possible he has many top years left for Liverpool and England in a new role.”

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