- Premier League
Liverpool bid for Del Piero came too late
Alessandro Del Piero snubbed Liverpool in order to sign for Sydney FC, according to the Australian club.
Del Piero, a legend at Italian champions Juventus after spending nearly two decades with the club, announced his arrival at the A-League side on Wednesday, having agreed terms on a two-year deal.
But that was not before Liverpool came in with a last-ditch bid for the 37-year-old's services.
The Reds are in desperate need of additional striking options after failing to find a replacement for Andy Carroll after loaning the striker to West Ham, but their interest arrived too late to steal Del Piero away from a move Down Under.
"Liverpool have come in - and they're a big club, there's no denying that," club chief executive Tony Pignata told Fox Sports Australia prior to the announcement. "But I think the attraction of Australia might sway us."
Hours later, Del Piero announced his move to Sydney - expressing his excitement at the new challenge.
"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," he said. "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 team mates in Sydney shortly."
Liverpool have denied making an offer to Del Piero, while the player - a World Cup winner in 2006 - also reportedly had interest from Southampton and Celtic. However, he insisted he was looking for an entirely fresh experience for the twilight of his professional career.
"Liverpool? When I said about the unthinkable clubs [who showed interest] I was also referring to Liverpool," Del Piero said. "I needed something different in every way. I would like to live another 50 years to savour all football. The Premier League has always been a point of reference for every player ... but I needed something different.
"It was very close, but this was the right choice."
Del Piero is set to earn around £45,000-a-week, but his new club hope to recoup much of that through increased attendances and merchandising revenues.
"It will take a little bit for him to adjust to the A-League," Pignata said. "We are very confident he will come and have a huge impact."
On the economic side of the deal, he added: "To make the back page of the [Australian] Daily Telegraph in NRL [finals] time is not a bad effort.
"We have to (make the money back). It's basically my job on the line."