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 on June 29, 2020 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. He will also continue his quest for the trophy that has eluded him so far during his glittering career: the Champions League.
“I had important roles in all the clubs I played for and Barcelona will be no different.
I lived with pressure since I was 17 or 18. At the end of the day I always make my team's starting lineup despite the criticism I get. That's all that matters really."
—Miralem Pjanic on his surprise transfer to Barcelona at 30 years old, a swap deal that saw Arthur Melo move in the opposite direction
LaLiga Santander will be the third of Europe’s top leagues to enjoy the Bosnia and Herzegovina playmaker’s talents. After leaving his home country with his family for Luxembourg, where his father played semi-professional football for FC 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 one season.
Miralem Pjanic was always interested in my free-kick techniques when we were at Lyon.
I told him repetition is the only trick, and he never stopped following me for extra free-kick sessions since. I'm not surprised he's now among the best—if not the best—in the world today."
—Pjanic was mentored by Lyon legend and arguably the greatest free-kick taker of all time, Juninho Pernambucano as teenager
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.”
Miralem 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.
Can he be my heir? Maybe. It would be nice to think that the player already exists at Roma."
—Pjanic did not ultimately succeed Francesco Totti as King of Rome, but instead became the midfielder with most Serie A Team of the Year appearances
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.
I’m not interested in trying 10 stepovers or backheels. I’m more fascinated by how to simplify a play, because simplicity is what makes this sport so beautiful.
In fact the simplest things are so often also the hardest. Not everyone can do them well."
—Camp Nou faithfuls are dreaming to relive the heydays of Xavi Hernandez, Pjanic's football role model
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.