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Butler: Del Piero not so great for Impact, Di Vaio welcomed

Noel Butler
6/1/2012 2:44:14 PM
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They say Friday is the best day for any organization - sporting or otherwise - to deliver bad news.

In keeping with this tradition the list that comprised the names of all players let go by Barclay's Premier League clubs was released by the league in London this afternoon.

At around the same time, credible reports were emerging from Italy that one of football's truest of legends was Montreal Impact bound.

One of the most respected publications that litter the football world going as far as to suggest that a Miami vacationing Alessandro del Piero was indeed in Florida as a guest of Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo. TSN.ca learned this is not the case.

As is the suggestion the club has resumed discussions with Del Piero, talks that initially began about this time last year. Although the club were in the midst of their final season in the NASL and firmly focused on the playoffs and ideally their fourth Playoff Championship behind the scenes the club were transitioning themselves to the quantum leap that is Major League Soccer.

From the rendering of new Saputo Stadium designs, signing significant long-term corporate partnerships an overhaul on the playing side the primary focus.

Unbeknown to Impact fans as they filed through the gates for a home fixture last summer in one of the private loges that litter the covered Grandstand that even houses the media gallery and broadcast booths, Stefano Del Piero was in attendance.

A guest of Impact management, he was in town to discuss his brother's next move.

And it won't be Montreal.

Impact President Joey Saputo informed TSN.ca following extensive reports out of Italy earlier Friday. "The player's rep has always said that the interest is in New York or Los Angeles," he said. "We broke off negotiations in August 2011."

Saputo's response when asked if discussions have resumed was as emphatic as it was brief.

"No."

He did though admit MLS's 19th franchise had recently been contacted by Del Piero's representatives, presumably to pick back up after it has become apparent that neither the Galaxy nor the Red Bulls were interested in Del Piero. L.A. was already at the DP limit and the Red Bulls were in urgent need and search of a top notch defender.

The club declined the overtures from Del Piero.

"There is no interest on our part," Saputo added. "More importantly, what is the true interest of the player? Is it only money?"

It's well documented the Impact attempted all they could to convince a Del Piero, an Anelka or even a Drogba. Always upper mind to Impact ownership, senior management wasn't what was left in the football gas tank but the motivations of any high priced talent of why they wanted to resume their career in Major League Soccer with the Montreal Impact.

This is a club that as a core philosophy has always had the long run in mind. A mandate if you like for any designated player to be suited and booted in Impact blue is what effect the player would have not just on the lush Saputo Stadium pitch but everyone connected with the club.

From the reserve team, the academy and all technical and front office staff, their supporters even down to the person who pours the tea.

Del Piero - by his own admission that he was looking four square at the Big Apple and Tinsletown bright lights - did not fit that description. The Impact walked away, shunned but better off for the experience.

The same occurred last fall in London when Anelka although a player that could really have lit it up in La Belle Ville didn't fit the Impact footprint either. One such ludicrous condition Anelka's agent brother demanded during discussions was a job with the club's academy.

That was then. The Impact's week of course began early Monday morning Bologna time when a British Airways flight from London touched down at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport carrying some rather highly sought after and extremely valuable football talent.

Marco Di Vaio, alongside his wife and young children and escorted by the Impact President and Sporting Director Nick De Santis, emerged into the arrivals terminal to be met by hundreds upon hundreds of delirious Impact supporters.

Adorned in their Impact jerseys, flags and banners to make Di Vaio and his family feel welcome they were serenaded in their native Italian tongue. On Monday, Di Vaio was formally introduced at the Impact's bustling downtown offices. He spoke French - learned from his Monaco days and retained.

Saputo couldn't hide his delight Monday. Why should he. The extensive and exhaustive year long search was finally over.

Earlier this morning as he and Richard Legendre, the club's second most senior executive were about to lead the media on a tour of their brand spanking new premises ahead of its June 16 inauguration Saputo reflected on Di Vaio a week on.

"We found our DP, and are extremely happy with him," he said. He has shown his true commitment to the whole organization."

Perhaps those words will echo in Stefano del Piero's office.

After meeting his new team mates for the first time at training yesterday, Di Vaio and his family jetted off for a Florida fortnight.

No prizes for guessing if this ex-member of the Azzurri is indeed in Miami as a guest of the Impact owner.

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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