Living legend Alessandro Del Piero had been linked with several clubs throughout the summer, including Major League Soccer sides New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy. The loudest and most recent rumors regarding the player were proven to be true on Wednesday, and Del Piero will now be spending his time in a league that is largely ignored by fans in the United States.
The official A-League website has confirmed that Del Piero has inked a two-year deal with Sydney FC. According to reports, Del Piero will make $2 million per year, making him the highest-paid player in the history of Australian football. The contract also includes an option for a third season.
Del Piero offered the following comments regarding his A-League switch: "This is a very big moment for me because I want to continue my career in a new part of the world where I can make a major contribution and help grow the game I love. The most important thing for me has always been the football and I want to help Sydney FC be successful. This is an exciting journey for me and I look forward to joining my new teammates in Sydney shortly."
Serie A, Champions League and World Cup; the 37-year old Del Piero has done it all. He struggled to find playing time during the first half of the 2011-12 Serie A campaign while with Juve, but he then played second-half savior multiple times during the 2012 portion of the season. Del Piero netted his last goal while wearing a Juve shirt in the team's final game of the season, a victory over Atalanta.
Multiple stories surfaced early last spring that Del Piero wanted to end his professional career playing in MLS. According to those reports, Del Piero only wanted to play for either the defending league champs LA Galaxy or the New York Red Bulls. The problem was that neither team were in for Del Piero, and the Red Bulls ultimately went a different route when they acquired Tim Cahill in late July. Several European teams, including Liverpool, Southampton and Celtic, were reportedly interested in snatching Del Piero ahead of Sydney in the final hour. In the end, however, Del Piero decided that Australia would be his new home.
Sydney could certainly use the boost. They finished the 2011-12 regular season fifth in the league table, and they were eliminated from the Finals Series, the A-League's playoff format, in the first round. It's also worth noting that both Sydney and the A-League need the positive press as the league is seeking to secure a new TV deal ahead of the 2012-13 campaign, which is set to begin next month.
Whenever a veteran star at the twilight of his career joins the A-League, MLS or other such league, fans can't help but wonder if that player is simply looking to earn one final payday before he calls it a career. That shouldn't be a concern with Del Piero. The former Juve forward, like current RBNY captain Thierry Henry, is a true competitor, one who won't be satisfied with merely jogging about the pitch on A-League weekends. Max Bretos of ESPN had the following to say about the signing on Wednesday morning ET: "A League missed out on Tim Cahill, made up for it, & then some by adding Alessandro Del Piero. That is a Beckham like signing for Sydney FC."
The David Beckham experiment has worked out rather well for LA Galaxy, hasn't it?