Los Angeles Soccer: Carlo Ancelotti
Montreal-based website Soccer Plus cited “sources close to negotiations” in reporting Thursday that Del Piero, a 37-year-old striker leaving Juventus after 19 years, will join L.A. and finish his career in the United States.
The Galaxy, which does not comment on potential acquisitions, has all three of its Designated Player spots filled -- by David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane -- so Del Piero's arrival would require that one of them departs or that his salary comes in below the DP figure of $350,000, whether through contractual mechanisms or if paid down by allocation money. L.A. would have to discard at least one player to open a roster spot and free up cap space.
Del Piero is a beloved and universally respected figure in the Italian game -- he scored a club-record 289 goals in 704 games for Turin-based Juventus and played 91 times for Italy's national team, scoring 27 goals and winning the 2006 World Cup, in which he netted the second overtime goal to beat Germany in the semifinals -- and he's made no secret of his desire to play in America.
He told Sky Sport 24 in May 2011 that he might join the Galaxy when his Juve contract ran out this year.
“It could be a possibility,” Del Piero said. “It's a country I love so much, and I could also take the opportunity to go see the Lakers.”
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish on Thursday finally confirmed what everybody already knew, that he's trying to sign Galaxy forward Robbie Keane on a two-month loan deal.
McLeish is looking to bolster a Villa attack that has scored just 22 goals in 20 games, the sixth-worst total in the 20-team English Premier League.
“We're having a look at it and trying to pursue it, so that's the latest, although nothing is actually done and dusted as yet,” McLeish told reporters. “If we don't know by Monday, then it'll probably be not done. That's why I don't want to say too much, in case it doesn't happen, but we're certainly pursuing it, and at the moment both parties are keen.”
Keane, an Irish striker who signed with the Galaxy in August, is training with his former club Tottenham through Jan. 20. British wire service The Press Association reported that Villa would pay nearly $775,000 to the Galaxy.
WORTH NOTING: Nothing official on David Beckham's new contract with the Galaxy is expected for another week or so, but new Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti -- who was in charge at AC Milan during the English star's first Serie A loan stint -- says he's staying with L.A. “We had the possibility to have Beckham,” Ancelotti told reporters after PSG returned to Paris following a winter break in the Middle East. “But Beckham decided to stay in Los Angeles because his family requested him.” Reports have Ancelotti now looking to bring in forward Ivorian forward Didier Drogba. ... Reports in Sweden claim former Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter's next signing as Hammarby's head coach likely will be forward Billy Schuler, who turned down a Generation adidas contract from Major League Soccer after helping North Carolina to the NCAA title.
It's about family, as we always thought it would be, with sources “close to” Beckham telling British tabloid Daily Mail that he is reluctant to relocate his family, which is happily settled in Beverly Hills.
And now there are questions about Paris Saint-Germain's desire to sign the English superstar. French sports daily L'Equipe reports that new PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti would rather bring in Brazilian midfielder Kaká, from Real Madrid, as Leonardo, the club's sporting director, says he's willing to give Beckham more time to consider the offer.
“The question has never been professional but about family. It is a difficult choice to make the whole family move to Paris,” Leonardo said in remarks published by Sky Sports. “We will wait a little. It is a personal choice, and it is not that easy to him. We have some time, and he has some time, too.
"We never stated it has been done. There is no contract. We won't push him -- we respect him a lot. I know him and have an amazing admiration toward him both as a player and as a father. I can understand it is difficult to move. We will leave him in peace.”
Beckham is expected to make a decision after talks with Simon Fuller, whose XIX Entertainment serves as Beckham's agents. His five-year, $32.5 million contract with the Galaxy expired Dec. 31, but L.A. reportedly has offered a rolling one-year contract to replace it. PSG is dangling an 18-month, $18.7 million pact, according to media reports.
KEANE TO VILLA?: Robbie Keane was adamant following the Major League Soccer season that he was not interested in an offseason loan, but there appears to be interest in England to bring him back for a spell.
French fans continue to prepare for David Beckham's arrival, politicians debate the appropriateness of his would-be salary and Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari owners express confidence the English star's name will be on a contract shortly.
Leonardo, the Parisian giant's sporting director -- “general manager,” in American sports terminology -- admits he's not so sure.
Two French newspapers reported last week that Beckham had agreed to an 18-month, $18.7 million deal with PSG, and Agence France Presse reported that he is expected to sign next week in a trip to Qatar, but the Galaxy midfielder's representatives have balked at such claims.
They did so again Friday.
“There is no agreement with PSG at this time,” 19 Entertainment said in a statement. “An offer does not make a contract, we continue to hold negotiations with a number of clubs. No decision has been made, and we do not expect one at the moment.”
Leonardo said he's not sure Beckham, who also is considering a sixth season with the Galaxy, is coming at all.
“He is in L.A., he has his family over there,” the Brazilian told media Friday as he introduced Carlo Ancelotti as PSG's new coach. “We have talked a lot and we are still talking, but I’m not sure it will be done.
“We have a very good rapport with David Beckham, but we never said it was a done deal. We have studied it and we are studying it. It’s always been a question of personal matters.”
Politicians on the left have bashed the numbers in his reported 18-month, $18.7 million contract offer -- about $240,000 a week -- and the opposition Socialist Party is proposing legislation that would make such deals illegal.
Beckham would be the best-paid athlete in France if he accepts the PSG deal. Newspapers last week reported he had agreed in principle with the Ligue 1 leader, and Agence France Presse reported that he might sign while attending a tennis tournament next week in Qatar, home to the club's owners. Beckham's representatives called it “premature” speculation and denied the midfielder, who is vacationing in London, had made a decision about his future.
British broadsheet The Telegraph, citing sources in the Beckham camp, reported Thursday that Beckham has scuttled offers from Brazil, Italy and the Middle East and is seriously considering another season in Los Angeles.
Some French politicians, perhaps preparing for next year's presidential election, began railing against the Beckham contract numbers last week.
“I’ve had enough of these enormous salaries,” French Socialist MP Jean-Marc Ayrault told Britain's Daily Express. “It’s not just with football players, but also businessmen who should have their salaries capped.”
Eva Joly, a judge who is running for president, called the numbers “shocking” and questioned the wisdom of paying a player of Beckham's age -- he'll be 37 in May -- so much money.
“It’s not a game, it’s business,” said the judge, who has followed an anti-corruption agenda. “At his age and with the state of his knees, he’s going to be selling T-shirts. The salary is shocking because of the economic crisis and an example of how huge sums of money are concentrated in the hands of very few people.”
If reports that Ronaldinho could be coming to Major League Soccer are more than just speculation or posturing, then don't be too surprised if he ends up somewhere other than the Galaxy.
That's the latest from France, where some of the Brazilian superstar's representatives are based: that the “big offer” being prepared is not with L.A.
Ronaldinho, 31, has been linked to the Galaxy for some time, and there were reports in Europe and Brazil that he was bound for L.A. before signing last January with Rio de Janeiro-based Flamengo following a decade in Europe with Paris-Saint Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan.
Reports have resurfaced, claiming the attacker could be the replacement if David Beckham signs with Paris Saint-Germain, as French media claim he will do shortly after New Year's, but MLS-News, a French website that covers MLS and is an “official partner” of University Elite Athletes USA -- a French management agency working to move Ronaldinho to the U.S. league -- says that might not be so.
“Yes, we're trying to bring Ronnie to the league, but there may be a surprise in which club he could play for,” said Jerome Meary, a University Elite Athletes USA representative the website said was “handling the case jointly with MLS.”
“We are preparing a big offer, but it is not with Los Angeles.”
Meary told MLS-News that the Galaxy has right of refusal on Ronaldinho. The player's French adviser Michael Wiesenfeld, founder of the New York-based European Football Group agency (and a former marketing assistant at PSG), last week told the website that negotiations with the Galaxy had begun last summer and “are intensifying.”
Still no word on David Beckham's future, and we're not expecting anything definitive until next week, but that hasn't stopped the reports in the French media, which assumes the Galaxy midfielder has (or will) accept Paris Saint-Germain's 18-month, $18.7 million offer.
If that happens, might Ronaldinho take his place?
MLS-News, a French website that covers MLS, claims the Galaxy has revived its interest in the Brazilian superstar, who apparently wants top leave Flamengo for MLS.
Ronaldinho has been linked to the Galaxy for some time, and there were ample reports in Europe and Brazil that he was bound for L.A. before signing last January with the Rio de Janeiro-based club following stints at Paris-Saint Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan.
He would make close to $10 million a season, his French-based agent, Michael Wiesenfeld, told the website. “We've been in negotiations since this summer,” he said. “And they are intensifying.”
The Galaxy does not comment on prospective players.
Ronaldinho, according to Brazilian reports, hasn't been paid in months by the sports management agency Traffic, which is responsible for about 68 percent of his $627,000-a-month Flamengo salary. He has scored 21 goals in 52 matches for the club, all competitions.
Beckham's contract with the Galaxy expires Dec. 31, and although there are options in England and elsewhere, he figures to sign with PSG or re-sign with L.A.