After an amazing season with Juventus, and an equally impressive run at Euro 2012 with Italy, it seems like Andrea Pirlo is finally being recognized as one of the best players in the world at his position.
Some may say that he’s always been regarded as one of the best, but after consistent performances with Juventus and Italy, Andrea Pirlo has looked good enough to be in the running for this year’s Ballon d'Or.
Here's what makes Andrea Pirlo an elite midfielder.
Although he doesn’t wear the captain’s armband for Juventus, he leads by example on the pitch. Pirlo's introversion off the pitch and impact on it mirrors that of La Liga midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi of Barcelona.
His impact is further proven when looking at his stats from last season. In 37 appearances, the former AC Milan man had 13 assists, meaning he was both Juventus and Serie A’s leader in that category.
His performances were undoubtedly crucial in Juventus’ unbeaten league campaign.
Over the years, Pirlo has acclimatized to more of a deep-lying playmaker role compared to the attacking midfield position that he played in at the start of his career.
Playing deeper has allowed Pirlo more time on the ball, which gives him the ability to create more of his trademark precision passes.
Pirlo has made that position his own.
Juventus coach Antonio Conte acknowledged his player's impact in that position by giving him 37 starts in 38 games in 2011-12, allowing the World Cup winner to get accustomed to the players around him.
Much of Italy’s attack flowed through Pirlo during this summer’s Euro 2012.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli acknowledged Andrea’s impact in the midfield by keeping him in the same position as he was in with Juventus.
Pirlo, aged 33, repaid the faith shown in him by leading his side to an unexpected appearance in the final.
Although Andres Iniesta received the Player of the Tournament award at this year's European Championships, Andrea Pirlo’s performances certainly put him in consideration for this year's Ballon d'Or.
For a player of his caliber, few would argue that he wouldn’t deserve it.