In the early noughties, Andrea Pirlo revolutionized the Regista role in Italian football. Since then, almost every up-and-coming midfielder with a good vision and impressive technique has been likened to the 2006 World Cup winner.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority (if not all) fell short in the task to emulate the Grand Maestro. Yet, he remains an inspirational figure and a reference point in Italian football.

But when the man himself comes up to anoint a youngster as his potential heir, then his words will surely raise some eyebrows.

In a new interview, Pirlo suggested young Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli as his possible successor at the club.

“Locatelli is growing, but the one who made the biggest leap in quality is Fagioli. I was the one who gave him his senior debut at Juventus,” said the 43-year-old in an interview with la Gazzetta dello Sport via Calciomercato.

“He knows how to do everything and is a staple in the formation. He has the skills to excel in directing the play.

“He could be the new Pirlo, but better be remembered as Fagioli.”

On another note, Pirlo remained coy on his future, stating that he’ll only discuss a renewal with Karagumruk at the end of the season.

The former Milan star spent four years as a player at Juventus (between 2011 and 2015) while also serving as manager in the 2020/21 campaign. Nonetheless, he left the door open for a future in Turin.

“The Juventus squad remains very strong, even if Allegri has paid for the injury crisis. The distance in the standings from Napoli does not reflect the real difference in values.

“I have a good rapport with the club. I still hear from some of the remaining managers and I also saw Andrea Agnelli. Mutual esteem remains.

“Would I come back? Sure. When a top club like Juve calls …”