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Frank Lopapa On May - 3 - 2012

Del Piero: The Legend All But Confirms Turin Exit

It’s never easy for a club or its supporters when a legendary player leaves, whether on his own accord or otherwise. Sadly, for both Alessandro Del Piero and Juventus, it has been the latter. The whole mess started last October during a shareholder’s meeting, when president Andrea Agnelli announced that this season would be Del Piero’s last in Turin as the club decided not to extent his current contract. Cameras stationed outside club headquarters after the meeting showed a clearly dismayed Del Piero, who shunned questions about the contents of the meeting and quickly left the scene. In subsequent interviews, Del Piero has insisted that he has at least two more years left in him before he makes a decision on retiring. The Conegliano-born forward recently released an autobiography entitled Giochiamo Ancora (translated Let’s Keep Playing), an overt message that he intends on continuing his playing career, regardless of whether it is at Juventus Stadium or elsewhere.

It would be remiss of me to not offer up my opinion on the matter as a Juventino. From a supporter’s perspective, it is disappointing not to see him finish his career at the club he helped bring so much success to. If Del Piero says he can still play at a high level (and judging by his appearances this season he isn’t far off at all), I don’t see any harm in giving him a one-year extension so long as he knows that he won’t be playing very frequently, as we’ve already seen this season. With that said, it is important for Juventini everywhere to remember that no player is ever larger than the club he represents; however, losing a club captain, one that stayed with the team during its darkest hours as well as being one of calcio’s true legends, will definitely be a difficult pill to swallow.

Is Del Piero leaving the club under ideal circumstances? It depends on how one observes the situation; on one hand, it looks as though he is leaving against his wishes, while on the other, he would also be leaving on a high note should Juventus win the scudetto (and a significant one at that). For me, it appears to be more of the former than the latter. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Del Piero definitely comes off as disappointed with the way the situation has been handled, as he stated that ending his career at Juventus would have been “a dream.” If Juventus end up doing the league and cup double, it will be a bittersweet, yet fitting tribute to Del Piero’s time at Juventus.

Should Del Piero and club management not agree on an extension by the end of June, it is all but confirmed that he will not play for another team in Italy, leaving the most probable destinations to be either the Gulf countries or the United States. Rumors have persisted that if Alex decides to play in Major League Soccer, his two preferred destinations would either be Los Angeles or New York, where he would hook up with former teammate Thierry Henry.

Nevertheless, I get the strange feeling that Juventus and Del Piero will come to an agreement on a contract extension after the end of the season. Alex has proven himself to be a valuable asset off the bench, most notably in crucial matches against Milan, Inter, and Lazio, not to mention being an important part of the dressing room. Due to his role as an impact sub this season, an extension would not make club management look weak in the wake of pressure from the supporters, rather, it would come off as a smart move in keeping a player who still has much left to offer on the field as well as off it. If an extension fails to materialize, supporters and the media will not look kindly upon the club’s leadership, even in the event of ending the six year long scudetto drought.

  • Juventino to the end

    Perhaps it’s wishful thinking that the club will extend Del Piero’s contract. They could come to an agreement to extend the contract and then Alessandro can leave on HIS OWN terms.

    We will all miss his departure no matter which way he exits BUT, the ownership should and MUST remember that the record-holder stayed with Juve when other turncoats went were the money was.

    Forza Juve

  • enzo1897

    I have this feeling too, but agree it could be wishful thinking. As Juventus being the club I have grown up with and Del Piero being the hero of my youth my head is probably denying this possibility. However, I’d love to see him stay another year before playing in the states.

    Beside that, he could come back and play for Juventus during the winter break in MLS.

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