As the summer transfer window draws near, there is one man people have forgotten. We all know about the likes of Nicolas Gaitáns and Eden Hazards already, due to the stardom that follows them but I also expect Sir Alex to make his presence felt in an attempt to bring one of football’s true superstars to Old Trafford this summer. He may not be “Il Pinturicchio” any more but there is no denying the sheer class and elegance of Alessandro Del Piero.
In this piece, I’ve decided to take a look at some of the key factors that could see the Italian legend land a cameo spot at the Theatre of Dreams this summer.
If there’s one thing Del Piero will present, it’s value. All right, he may be 38 come November, but he’ll be on a free. His wage demands won’t be as high as, forexample, Leandro Damião, and would be within the range of reason for a fourth choice striker. I believe that a player such as Del Piero could help balance out the wage structure if United was to go for a big money signing in the summer, which seems to be the case.
If we look into the financial department, I believe a “DEL PIERO 7” shirt would sell like hot cakes internationally. The idea of giving a player like Del Piero the coveted number seven is perhaps not the brightest of ideas given the history of the shirt but the financial upswing would be too great to turn down. And if there’s one thing Sir Alex, United and, especially, The Glazers are looking for, it’s value in the market.
Both Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov seem likely to leave United at the end of the season. This will us short of two strikers who can say that they’ve virtually seen everything in world football. Yes, United are in a rebuilding process, but you need players of routine who can guide young players.
You may question the fact that bringing in Michael Owen was a bad move when you look at what he has produced on the pitch (even though I believe he proved his worth at stoppage time against City) but what he has given the team off it is invaluable. Players have spoken warmly about him, the manager himself has talked about the influence he has given. There’s no denying that Michael Owen was one of the world’s greatest strikers at a point and could easily share his wisdom with younger players such as Javier Hernández, Danny Welbeck and William Keane.
Imagine what Alessandro Del Piero could bring to the table. His role has been switched so many times during his tenure at Juventus. From a out-and-out striker, to a “trequartista” (the role played by Rooney now) and as a winger, he’s basically the perfect man to give tips and help younger players grow. Something of which Fergie will have noticed from seeing players grow with Owen, and also seeing how Rio Ferdinand grew when being partnered by Laurent Blanc. Del Piero offers immense potential in the shape of being able to help other players flourish.
3. Winning mentality
Del Piero is arguably the greatest Italian footballer of his generation. Having won multiple Scudettos in Italy, the Champions League and the World Cup, Del Piero epitomize much of Manchester United’s culture. He’s a winner. Del Piero demands the best from himself and everyone around him. If others won’t take the responsibility, you can be sure he’ll grasp it with both his hands and take full advantage when the time comes.
His mentality and the way he carries himself will also be of immense inspiration for the younger players coming through the ranks. David de Gea once spoke about how proud he felt to walk into the dressing room and sit next to players such as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. Alessandro Del Piero will bring the exact same to the table, maybe even more so given his status in Southern-Europe.
Plenty of United’s young players grew up watching football in the 90’s and grew up when Del Piero was the peak of his career. It’s all about the inspiration and the winning mentality a man of Del Piero’s stature could add to United’s squad. He may not be of the same quality as he was ten years ago, but he will raise the bar in terms of just being Alessandro Del Piero.
4. Ferguson’s obsession with “getting his man”
It’s well-documented how Ferguson is often obsessed by some players and want them at the club regardless of reputation, and age. After trying to sign him since 1996, Ferguson finally got his way with a 35-year old Laurent Blanc in 2001. Having tried to sign him ever since he scored for fun at Helsingborg in his early days, he landed a three month loan deal for Henrik Larsson, then aged 36, in 2007. He tried to sign Dimitar Berbatov while at Leverkusen, but Tottenham beat him to the punch. Michael Owen was also a player Ferguson have admitted to have admired for a long time while at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle.
It’s been widely reported that Ferguson has been a long-standing admirer of Del Piero, but never managed to negotiate a deal with Juventus who obviously didn’t want to part ways with one of their absolute greatest players of all time. Now, having made an official statement stating that Del Piero no longer would be a part of the Turin based club after this season, nothing stands in Ferguson’s way if he’d wish to land the Italian.
Furthermore, it’s well documented that Del Piero is an admirer of English football, and has mentioned that Manchester United is the team that stands above the rest, and that the roaring crowd at Old Trafford is something he considers a thing of beauty. It’s perhaps a case of “Lady and the Tramp” where Ferguson and Del Piero will have had to overcome many a obstacle in order to finally achieve their “happily ever after.”
If Berbatov and Owen were to leave in the summer, United would need a new striker. You do expect Ferguson to go out and get one of Europe’s best players, but after having lived through the schemes of Carlos Tévez, and having struggled to fit Dimitar Berbatov in at Old Trafford, Del Piero will present the perfect replacement.
Lets face it; Del Piero won’t be a starter, something he will admit himself, but he will be ready when his time comes. He’s one of those players who can create something out of nothing with next to no time on the clock, and will do his bit in order to help his team. Many questioned his passion and commitment, but the way he’s handled being left out of the action at the Juventus Stadium is nothing short of admirable. He’s there when they need him, come hell or high water.
What makes me more positive about signing Del Piero than a young, aspiring talent is that Del Piero won’t need playing time in order to progress as a player. His abilities have been proven for almost 20 years and leaving him out for a game or two won’t change the amount of quality he’d bring to the team. He would be ready to participate whenever he would be called upon, and a final swansong at Old Trafford may be just what he’d need to rejuvenate himself and write his name into Manchester United’s folklore for ever.