Italy's Del Piero will not join Impact
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MONTREAL - Italian soccer star Alessandro Del Piero will not be joining the Montreal Impact, the president of the Major League Soccer club said Friday.
Joey Saputo, whose club signed former Bolgna forward Marco Di Vaio as its first designated player last week, denied reports originating in Italy that the team was in talks with Del Piero and that the Juventus striker had recently stayed with the Saputo family in Florida.
Del Piero was in Florida, but it was with his former Italy teammate, Impact forward Bernardo Corradi.
Saputo said that while the club expressed interest last summer in luring Del Piero to North America, there had been no further talks and the team was no longer interested.
"I can say no members of my family are in Florida," Saputo said. "He did meet with Bernardo Corradi, who was in Florida for the four days off we had.
"I know they played tennis together. I know that Corradi was talking to him about Montreal and how great it is. But there's been absolutely no talk on our part with Del Piero."
He said that in meetings last August, the Juventus all-time scoring leader said he wanted to join MLS, but preferred to play for either the New York Red Bulls or the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Saputo said Del Piero's brother sent the Impact an e-mail this season to congratulate them on the large crowds drawn for games at Olympic Stadium, but the message went unanswered.
"As far as I'm concerned, that ship has sailed," Saputo said.
A report Friday said Del Piero will sign with Los Angeles, although the Galaxy already have the maximum of three designated players in David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. A designated player is paid more than the league maximum, but only part of it counts toward the salary cap.
The 37-year-old Del Piero scored 289 goals in 704 games with Juventus and another 27 goals in 91 matches for Italy. He will be available for free transfer on June 27.
Saputo was also confident the club will sign a new deal with Corradi.
The veteran missed a day of training this week only because he had been granted permission by the club to take an extra day of vacation with his family, he said. Reports that he would not stay on were "ridiculous," Saputo added.
Corradi's four-month contract is up for renewal. Saputo said both sides have stated they want the contract extended.