Miralem Pjanic’s story so far has been a fascinating one, taking him from Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Barcelona by way of Luxembourg, France and Italy. In a long-awaited announcement, it was confirmed this week that the 30-year-old midfielder will join Barcelona from Juventus for the 2020/21 season on a contract that will run until 2024.
At the Camp Nou, Pjanic will look to add to the three Serie A titles he has won with Juventus – which could be four by the time he arrives – and he’ll also continue his quest for the trophy that has eluded him so far during his glittering career, the Champions League.
La Liga Santander will be the third of Europe’s top leagues to enjoy Pjanic’s talents. After leaving his home country with his family for Luxembourg, where his father played semi-professional football for Schifflange 95, Pjanic developed his skills there and was soon spotted and signed by French side Metz at the age of 14. He made his professional debut for Metz aged just 17 and impressed so much that he was picked up by French giants Lyon after just a season.
After three years in Lyon, his Italian journey began with a move to join Roma. It was there that Pjanic’s profile really rose as he displayed his versatility by playing in a variety of positions across the midfield and scored freekick after freekick, a craft he perfected together with the legendary Juninho Pernambucano at Lyon.
Roma’s own legend Francesco Totti quickly came to appreciate what Pjanic could bring to the table, praising his football brain and insisting that this was far more important than the Bosnia and Herzegovina international’s perceived lack of pace. As Totti told reporters back in 2011: “Pjanic is technically formidable, even if he seems a little slow on the outside. He thinks a second quicker than you and that makes it very difficult for opponents.”
That quick thinking and beautiful style of play earned Pjanic the nickname in Italy of ‘Il Pianista’, or ‘The Pianist’ – a play on words referring to his name, and also his ability to move so gracefully while on ball.
After five years in Rome, Juventus came calling. Pulling the strings in midfield, it was in Turin where Pjanic won the first major trophies of his career with a Serie A and Coppa Italia double, as well as reaching the Champions League final in Cardiff, though the Bianconeri would ultimately lose to Real Madrid.
Pjanic will now renew his rivalry with Real Madrid, not in black and white but in Blaugrana colours. Barcelona are acquiring a player whose technical ability should see him fit comfortably into the midfield at the Camp Nou.
He also already speaks Bosnian, Luxembourgish, French, Italian, English and German and, with language skills like that, it won’t be long before ‘The Pianist’ learns the local language and the footballing language at Barcelona too.