Finally, the Pirlo saga is over. AC Milan have announced that Andrea Pirlo is officially off the market and will end his career playing in the glorious red and black jersey.
Rumors about Pirlo, and maybe Pato, joining Chelsea had been making the rounds as soon as Carlo Ancelotti became Chelsea manager. During his time with Milan, there is no doubt Pirlo that was one of Carletto's most trusted players, and sure enough Ancelotti wanted him at Stamford Bridge too.
Right from the start Adriano Galliani had stated that Pato would definitely not leave the club, but there were evident doubts whether Milan could hold on to Pirlo.
One can understand Chelsea's interest in the Italian central midfielder. His creative genius and free-kick taking ability are world-class, his experience is invaluable. He would be an asset to almost any team he joins.
Negotiations were at full throttle between Chelsea and Milan. Many "insiders" had even predicted that the deal was almost done.
But the torment for Rossoneri fans was finally ended when club president Silvio Berlusconi announced at Milanello that Pirlo will be staying with Milan.
Leonardo definitely had a huge say in this. Performances in pre-season friendlies have been disappointing so far, to say the least. The departure of the experienced Pirlo, with no quality midfield replacement in sight, would have been a telling blow for the club.
Andrea Pirlo is very happy to stay with Milan, of course. He did not forget to thank Berlusconi and Leonardo, as he expressed his delight at the news, and stated that he was optimistic about the upcoming season.
They will all have to be optimistic.
Milan have many problems to sort out, and they know it. If they have to prove the critics wrong, they must stay positive.
Berlusconi also announced that they were passionately pursuing a quality striker. Huntelaar's name has been linked to the club several times recently, with reports emerging from Italy that Huntelaar is set to sign tomorrow. But Berlusconi refrained from talking any names just yet.
Pirlo staying, Berlusconi's visit and the spirited search for a good striker are all positive signs for Milan. They will look to build a balanced, quality side and carry this positivity into the upcoming season.