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International

Allegri Returns to Juventus as Coach to Replace Pirlo

TURIN, Italy — Massimiliano Allegri returned to Juventus on Friday, taking over as coach only hours after Andrea Pirlo left the job.

Allegri won five straight Serie A titles with Juventus, including four league and cup doubles, and also reached two Champions League finals. He was fired by the club two years ago.

"Massimiliano Allegri is the Juventus coach once more. Massimiliano Allegri is the Juventus coach once more," Juventus said in a statement, excitedly repeating itself. "Allegri returns to a bench that he knows very well, a club that he loves and that loves him back, to begin today a new journey together, toward new goals."

The 53-year-old Allegri has reportedly signed a three-year deal with the club.

Pirlo coached Juventus for only one season, but the team's fourth-place finish ended a run of nine straight Serie A titles. The club did not say whose decision it was to go, but reports in Italy say the 42-year-old Pirlo was fired.

Pirlo appeared surprised at the decision, writing on Instagram that he "reached all the objectives that were asked of me" and that his time at the club had ended "in a way I didn't expect."

Pirlo, a former Juventus player who had never coached at any level before taking over, was appointed last year after Maurizio Sarri was fired.

"A few months ago, Andrea Pirlo, an icon of world soccer, began his new adventure, his first as a coach," Juventus said in a statement. "To do this, first of all, it takes courage, as well as awareness of one's own means … Pirlo has just begun the first steps of what will no doubt become a brilliant career as a coach."

Juventus won the Italian Cup and the Super Cup under Pirlo, but Inter Milan won the Serie A title.

The club also faltered in the Champions League, losing to Porto in the round of 16.

"Since in soccer, what counts are the victories, let's remember them: in the space of a few short months Pirlo's Juve has raised two trophies: The Italian Supercup and the Coppa Italia. And he, as coach, brought home brilliant victories on the most prestigious of fields, from San Siro to Camp Nou," Juventus said.

Nicknamed "the maestro" as a player for his passing skills, Pirlo helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup and also won Serie A six times — twice with AC Milan and four times with Juventus. He also won the Champions League twice with Milan.

Coaching another team seems to be in his future. He has already been linked with the vacant position at Sassuolo.

"My first season as a coach is over. It was an intense year, complicated but marvelous at the same time," Pirlo said. "This adventure, despite ending in a way I didn't expect, has made it even clearer what I want my future to be."

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