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Andrea Pirlo hints at Juve exit

Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo has said this season could be his last for the club if he feels he is no longer a crucial element of the squad.

Pirlo, 34, has no intention of hanging up his boots at the end of the season, and is set to lead Italy's challenge at next year’s World Cup -- but his Juve days could be drawing to a close.

"I'm definitely going to carry on playing, but we'll have to see where," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I've already spoken to my club, and we will decide at the end of the season.

"My priority is Juve, but I don't want to be a burden on anybody. The years go by and there's nothing that says that I have to stay just because I'm Pirlo. I want to feel I'm important and crucial to the side's success, otherwise I'll leave."

The Italy international said he wanted to feel he was at the centre of a project and a leader on the pitch even without the captain's armband, worn for club and country by Gianluigi Buffon.

If the Bianconeri can no longer provide him with that sort of assurance, he could turn his back on Italian football altogether.

"If I were to change clubs, then maybe I'd go abroad," Pirlo said. "Certainly, I would carry on playing for a top-level club. I've spoken with my agent and with [Real Madrid coach] Carlo Ancelotti, who I speak to frequently, although nobody has paved the way to a move to Real for me."

Pirlo will wait to hear what Juve think at the end of the season before making any decidision, although he stressed that he would like to end his club career in Turin.

His international career, though, will end sooner, and he said: "Obviously the World Cup is a beautiful objective and Italy can do great things, but I think I will then retire [from international football]. It's time to make room for younger players."

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