Italian great Alessandro Del Piero is set to play for Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League after having agreed to personal terms with the franchise. The 39-year-old was expected to pen the deal on Sunday, with an official announcement expected later this week.
The former Juventus striker is also likely to become the ambassador of the three-month tournament, which will begin on October 12, just like he was for the Australian League during his stint with Sydney FC.
While there were plenty of talks about Del Piero signing up the Delhi side in the past, that deal had hit a roadblock last month after Delhi owners Den Networks, ISL organisers and the Italian striker could not reach an agreement over the player’s image rights and personal terms. It is learnt that Del Piero’s brother and agent Stefano was in Mumbai and Delhi to hold talks with officials from IMG-Reliance and the club last month.
There was no further development post that meeting, giving rise to the speculation that Delhi’s ambition of signing Del Piero had ended. The footballer even released statements claiming that he was considering offers from ‘Japan and USA’. However, it has now emerged that the Italian will play in the eight-team tournament, after which he will move to USA’s Major League Soccer.
However, there has been no official confirmation from Den Networks on Sunday. But Delhi Dynamos’ vice-president (technical) Vaibhav Manchanda had said during last week’s international players draft that the club was close to signing their marquee player and the ‘announcement will be made at an appropriate time.’
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During the ISL, Del Piero will be reunited with former Juventus strike partner David Trezeguet, who has been signed up as the marquee player for Pune City. Former Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ Robert Pires and Freddie Ljunberg will also play in the league, as will the Spanish trio of Luis Garcia (Atletico de Kolkata), Joan Capdevila (North East United) and Josemi, who won the Champions League in 2005, with Liverpool.
Former Manchester City and England goalkeeper David James will be player-manager for the Kerala Blasters, while Manuel Friedrich, who was with Borussia Dortmund last season, has been snapped up by Mumbai City.
Del Piero, however, is all set to eclipse them all and become the highest-profile player to have played competitive football in India. He scored 208 goals in 513 appearances for Juventus and remains the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer. He also holds the record for the most appearances for the club.
Del Piero also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, where he famously scored the second extra-time goal against Germany in the semi-final.