March 20, 2014
Sydney FC coach Frank Farina has quashed reports star skipper Alessandro Del Piero will leave the A-League club at season’s end.
Fairfax Media reported on Saturday that the Sydney FC board met last week and decided not to offer the Italian the one-year contract extension he was seeking.
But Farina said a decision was yet to be made.
Sydney FC’s marquee player may be headed for the door. Photo: Getty Images
“The story that suggested that was the case, it’s not,” he said on Thursday.
“Discussions haven’t been held with Alessandro out of respect for what he wants to do, which is finish as high up the table as we can.
“But no, there’s no decision been made what so ever.”
Frank Farina says 12 players are fighting for contracts next season. Photo: Getty Images
More than half Farina’s squad, 12 out of 23, are off contract at the end of this season.
The likes of Joel Chianese, Serbian recruits Ranko Despotovic and Milos Dimitrijevic, Richard Garcia, Matt Jurman, Mitchell Mallia, Terry McFlynn, Ivan Necevski, Sasa Ognenovski, Blake Powell and Marc Warren along withDel Piero could all be heading for the exit door come May 30.
With four games remaining, not only will the club be fighting for a top-six spot but all 12 will be fighting for their jobs.
“I think every player is playing, not for their career, but playing to get a contract or justify why we’ve signed them,” Farina said.
“We are in discussions with a number of players, but it’s not the priority at this stage.”
Socceroos centre-back Ognenovski has been a key addition since joining the club in February, helping tighten the side’s leaky defence.
But the veteran hinted at a possible move to Melbourne next season.
“I’m originally from Melbourne so it would be nice to go home,” the 34-year-old said.
“So I’ll have a chat with the club and we might be doing something shortly.”
Del Piero, who is earning about $4 million a season with the Sky Blues and turns 40 in November, sat out last Friday’s clash due to a hamstring complaint.
Similar complaints have restricted his game time this season after a brilliant debut campaign in 2012-13 with the Sky Blues that yielded a club-record 14 goals.
Farina said he was reluctant to risk playing him last week with Sydney, currently in fifth spot, facing a tough run into the finals.
The coach said Del Piero had trained well and would be likely to play in Friday’s crucial encounter away to Adelaide.
It doesn’t get any easier next week with Sydney to face Melbourne Victory away followed by home clashes to Wellington and Perth.
“You roll the dice last week and you might miss him for two or three weeks,” Farina said.
“Now with four massive games to go he should be ok.”